3rd Sunday of Easter – Cycle A
Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this
discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that
1st Reading - Acts 2:14, 22-33
Today’s first reading tells of the formation of the early Church
as we hear Peter address the people of the day of Pentecost. His
address is in two parts: Part 1, which we do not hear today, explains
that the messianic times foretold by the Prophet Joel have now arrived;
today’s reading is the second part of the address and it
proclaims that Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Jews crucified, is the
Messiah promised by God and eagerly awaited by the righteous of the Old
Testament; it is he who has effected God’s saving plan for
“Pentecost” means “the 50th day”. It is one of
three feasts mentioned in Exodus 23:14-17 where it is called simply the
harvest festival, the feast of the first-fruits of the grain harvest.
In Leviticus 23:15-21 the feast is reckoned by counting seven weeks
from the beginning of the grain harvest; it is a day of sabbatical
observance. As with the other two feasts mentioned in Exodus 23:14-17,
it is a pilgrimage feast: “three times in the year shall all your
males appear before the Lord God”. Jerusalem is crowded with
pilgrims. The resurrected Jesus had spent forty days instructing His
apostles and then ten days ago ascended after telling them “not
to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for ‘the promise of the
Father... you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’” (Acts
1:4-5). The Holy Spirit has come upon them this day and now Peter, the
chief apostle and spokesman for the group, addresses the crowd of
pilgrims who are outside the upper room, attracted by the sound of the
coming of the Spirit.
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them,
Notice the change worked in Peter by the Holy Spirit: he preaches and
argues boldly whereas only some 50 days earlier he had trembled at the
word of a servant girl. Notice that it is Peter who speaks for the
whole group with no dissension from any of the other apostles.
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let
this be known to you, and listen to my words. 22 You who are
Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to
you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked
through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
The overall concern is to show that God is directing history at its every turn.
23 This man, delivered up by the set plan and
foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
God’s fore-ordination of Jesus’ death does not diminish the
people’s guilt. God triumphs through human actions rather than
24 But God raised him up, releasing him from the
throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. 25
For David says of him:
Jewish tradition is that David wrote all the psalms. Psalm 16:8-11 is
quoted; its only use in the New Testament. The tradition of Davidic
authorship of the psalms and the divine pledge of David’s
everlasting dynasty (2 Samuel 7:12-16) play a key role in the Scripture
proofs of Saint Luke’s proclamation of what God has done in
Christ for the salvation of men.
‘I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall
not be disturbed. 26 Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has
exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, 27 because you will not
abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one
to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you
will fill me with joy in your presence.’ 29 My brothers, one can
confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was
buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
1 Kings 2:10 tells us that David is buried in Jerusalem. Since David
has died, the psalm cannot apply to him. This argument is following a
set pattern: (1) Scripture says; (2) the words apply either to the one
speaking in the text or to another; (3) they do not apply to the
speaker; (4) therefore they apply to another, namely Jesus. Similar
patterns occur in Acts 8:30-35 and 13:35-37.
30 But since he was a prophet and knew that God had
sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his
The ideology of Davidic succession is quoted from Psalm 132:11-12 to indicate of whom David prophesied in the Psalm.
31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the
Messiah, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his
flesh see corruption. 32 God raised this Jesus; of this we are all
The statement of verse 24 is reaffirmed and a statement of apostolic witness is added.
33 Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the
holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you (both) see and
What we have here is Saint Peter, the masterful teacher, demonstrating
that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah who was foretold by the prophets
by reminding his listeners of our Lord’s miracles (verse 22), as
well as of His death (verse 23), resurrection (verses 24-32) and
glorious ascension (verse 33).
2nd Reading - 1 Peter 1:17-21
This week we delve a little farther into the 1st letter of Peter. Peter
was originally called Simeon in Hebrew (Simon is the Greek form of the
name). Jesus reamed him Kepha (Hebrew/Aramaic) or Petros (Greek),
transliterated in some texts as Cephas. Simon Peter was a native of
Bethsaida, a city of Galilee on the northeast shore of Lake Tiberius
(Genesareth/Sea of Galilee). Like his father John and his brother
Andrew, he was a fisherman. We know that he was married because Jesus
healed his mother-in-law who was living in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14).
Today we hear Saint Peter call us to holiness. The Christian has
attained the honor of being God’s child, his son or daughter.
Peter summarizes God’s plan for man’s salvation, which
comes about in Christ: from all eternity it was God’s design to
save men through Christ; this design was made manifest “at the
end of times”; when our Lord offered Himself as an expiation for
the sins of men, and then rose from the dead and was glorified.
17 Now if you invoke as Father
Calling upon a father as witness is swearing an oath (kaddush in
Hebrew) it is recognizing a covenant bond in which we are all children
of God. The Didache (The Teaching of the 12 Apostles), a 1st century
writing, tells us that the “Our Father” was recited three
times a day.
him who judges impartially
It is true that the Lord our God is infinitely merciful, but He is also
infinitely just: and there is a judgment, and He is the judge.
according to each one’s works,
Divine sonship can never be taken as a kind of safe-conduct which
allows us to be casual about our duties. Faith without works is dead
conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,
18 realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on
by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold 19
The Jews could redeem their sacrifice by paying 15 to 20 per cent more
than the cost of the animal. The animal sacrifice was not effective;
although it could show contrition for sin, it could not gain absolution
sufficient for entrance into heaven.
but with the precious blood of Christ
The sacrifice of Jesus is effective, it allows us to approach the Father and gain absolution for our sins.
“If the unfortunate Jews observe the Sabbath in such a way that
they do not dare to do any secular work on it, how much more should
those who have been ‘redeemed, not with gold or silver, but with
the precious blood of Christ,’ pay attention to their price and
devote themselves to God on the day of His resurrection, thinking more
diligently of the salvation of their souls?” [Caesar of Arles
(A.D. 542), Sermons, 73,4]
as of a spotless unblemished lamb.
This is a Passover reference which carries over into the Eucharist.
Just like the original Passover sacrifice, the sacrifice of the
Eucharist must be eaten to be effective.
20 He was known before the foundation of the world
God always knew what was going to be required, but He, in His infinite
respect for our free will, let us come to this point in salvation
history by our own deeds and actions.
but revealed in the final time for you, 21 who through him believe in
God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith
and hope are in God.
The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of Christian faith and hope and
is the main proof of Jesus’ divinity and His divine mission (see
1 Corinthians 15). The apostles were, first and foremost, witnesses of
our Lord’s resurrection; and the proclamation of the resurrection
was the core of apostolic catechesis. Jesus the Christ rose from the
dead by His own power, the power of His divine person. The Saint Pius V
Catechism points out that “We sometimes, it is true, read in
Scripture that He was raised by the Father; but this refers to Him as
man, just as those passages, on the other hand, which say that He rose
by His own power relate to Him as God.”
The next verse reads “Since you have purified yourselves by
obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another
intensely from a (pure) heart.” Everything depends upon living
the life of Christ.
Gospel - Luke 24:13-35
Last week we heard the account of Jesus’ first appearance to the
disciples as recorded in the Gospel of John. It was at this appearance
that He conferred the ability and responsibility to forgive sins to the
apostles. Today’s gospel reading is the first appearance of Jesus
away from the tomb as recorded in Luke’s gospel. There is a
parallel account in Mark 16:12-13.
There are a number of differences which show up upon comparison of
today’s gospel reading with the gospel reading of last week as we
hear this week of the account of His appearance to the two disciples on
the road to Emmaus:
1) The two men are not leaders of the community but represent all followers.
2) The two men are troubled and do not understand why Jesus was crucified.
3) At first they do not recognize Jesus.
4) The apostles seem to recognize Jesus but do not believe their senses.
5) After recognition, these two men do not hesitate to believe. 6) Once recognized, Jesus disappears.
13 Now that very day [the first day of the week]
As attested in Luke 24:1, this is the first Easter Sunday.
two of them
It has been suggested that these two may be part of the seventy-two (seventy) sent out in pairs in Luke 10:1.
were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
The location of the village is unknown today. The name means “hot spring”.
14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
The two have lost hope and have ceased to be journeying with Jesus.
Their leader has been killed and they don’t know what to do. The
Lucan theme of journey is predominant as an image for discipleship.
15 And it happened that while they were conversing
and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but
their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
Throughout his gospel Saint Luke plays on the theme of seeing. Now he
articulates this theme as he tells how the risen Christ opens the eyes
of disciples to see His true meaning in God’s plan. But as this
story narrates, the disciples’ eyes are only fully opened after
they have shown hospitality to a stranger.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk
along?” They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named
From Eusebius (A.D. 263-339) we learn that Cleopas is the brother of
Joseph, Jesus’ foster father and father of Symeon. Symeon
succeeded James as Bishop of Jerusalem and after A.D. 70 led the
Christians back to Jerusalem. “After the martyrdom of James and
the capture of Jerusalem which instantly followed, there is a firm
tradition that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord who were
still alive assembled from all parts together with those who, humanly
speaking, were kinsmen of the Lord – for most of them were still
living. Then they all discussed together whom they should choose as a
fit person to succeed James, and voted unanimously that Symeon, son of
the Cleopas mentioned in the gospel narrative, was a fit person to
occupy the throne of the Jerusalem see. He was, so it is said, a cousin
of the Savior, for Hegesippus tells us that Cleopas was Joseph’s
brother.” [Eusebius, The History of The Church (3.11)]. The names
may not be important for salvation history, but the tradition brings
out that the “brethren of Jesus”, his close relatives, did
not completely reject Him.
said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who
does not know of the things that have taken place there in these
days?” 19 And he replied to them, “What sort of
things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to
Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before
God and all the people,
At most, Jesus had impressed these men as the expected prophet. They never believed in Jesus’ divinity.
20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence
of death and crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that he would be the
one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day
since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have
astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not
find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a
vision of angels who announced that he was alive.
The faithful women disciples’ proclamation of the Easter gospel is resisted and does not open their eyes of faith.
24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb
Peter and John (John 20:3-10)
and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not
see.” 25 And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How
slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! 26 Was it not
necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into
his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he
interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.
Jesus begins His explanation with Genesis and the rest of the
Pentateuch (tradition ascribes authorship of these books to Moses).
What does positively contribute to faith is Jesus’ interpretation
of His life as the fulfillment of all God’s promises from one end
of the Scriptures to the other.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the
impression that he was going on farther. 29 But they urged him,
“Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost
over.” So he went in to stay with them.
Jesus was not play-acting, he really would have departed had He not been invited to stay.
30 And it happened that, while he was with them at
table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.
This is Eucharistic terminology. The Jerome Biblical Commentary states
“We need not maintain that Jesus consecrated the
Eucharist.” – I say “baloney!” Jesus
consecrated the Eucharist and in making Himself present in the
Eucharist the two disciples saw the fulfillment of all the Old
Testament covenants and prophesies as well as the New Testament
promises. After all, this is what Jesus had just spent the day
explaining to them. What a Bible study that must have been!
31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
The verb translated as “eyes were opened” occurs only eight
times in the New Testament and in each case it always means a deeper
understanding of revelation.
but he vanished from their sight. 32 Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on
the way and opened the scriptures to us?” 33 So they set out at
once and returned to Jerusalem
Notice that the two disciples are not at all upset at the loss (again)
of their leader. In fact, they are anxious to tell the apostles of
their discovery. They have discovered Jesus’ Real Presence in the
Eucharist! The person-to-person physical presence of a visible Jesus is
no longer necessary because He is indeed risen and is present in the
word and in the sacrament.
where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34
who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared
Jesus’ prayer (Luke 22:32) has been efficacious. Simon Peter has
also been forgiven and is now empowered to strengthen his fellow
Christians along the way.
35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org