Easter 3B

Thoughts on Sunday’s Lessons for April 14, 2024 (Easter 3B)

Christ Appears to the Disciples in Galilee

Christ Appears to the Disciples in Galilee (1308-1311), tempera painting on wood by Duccio di Buoninsegna (c.1255-c.1319). Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana del Duomo, Florence, Italy. (Click image to enlarge.

First Reading: Acts 3:12-19

Christ, the Messiah, has come for all the world: This promise resonates through Sunday’s readings. In the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John, filled with the Holy Spirit, have healed a man who could not walk. This astounded all those who saw the beggar joyfully moving about and praising God in the temple. In words that startle us now with their harsh anti-Judaism, Peter tells the crowd that the man was healed through the power of Jesus, the Messiah, whom they had rejected and had killed, but who will forgive them if they turn to him. Language like this, sadly, permeates Acts, which was written a generation after the destruction of the Temple, when Christians and Jews were angrily drawing apart.

Psalm: Psalm 4

In contrast with the many Psalms of anger and lamentation that call on God to crush and destroy the foe, Psalm 4 raises a more quiet and trusting confidence that’s echoed in the Taize hymn: “O Lord, hear my prayer … when I call, answer me.” The Psalmist sings for a people who face severe persecution from enemies, yet stand strong in confidence in a loving and faithful God. We join our voices with theirs, asking that the light of God’s countenance shine upon us and give us peace.

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-7

Echoing the themes of this week’s passage from Acts, the author of the First Letter of John assures members of the early church that God’s love revealed to us through Jesus makes us the children of God, and that the world will eventually come to know this. Meanwhile, the writer concludes, doing what is right keeps us in relationship with God through Jesus and thus free from sin, for there is surely no sin in Jesus.

Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48

This week we read a resurrection story from Luke. We pick up just after Luke’s account of two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus but did not recognize him until he broke bread. Now the disciples are together again, and Jesus suddenly appears among them and wishes them shalom. Their first response is not joy but surprise and terror, as if a ghost had materialized in the room. Much as he had done for Thomas in John’s Gospel, Jesus invited them to touch his wounds. Then he asked for something to eat, and he took a piece of fish, perhaps to show that he is no ghost but flesh and blood. Jesus declares himself the Messiah foretold in the Scriptures, and says that repentance and forgiveness of sins will go out in his name to all nations.

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