Sunday Gospel and Readings Commentary
The 3rd Sunday of Easter
15th April, 2018
Lectionary readings: Acts 3:13-19, Ps.4:2-9, 1John 2:1-5, Luke 24:35-48
It was the first day of the week and Jesus was raised from the dead! His disciples however, knew only of his death. To them everything had ended. Jesus, knowing his disciples’ disappointment and uncertainty appeared to them that day in a variety of ways. The women who hurried to the tomb very early that morning to anoint the body of Jesus were amazed that the stone had been rolled away and that the tomb was empty. When they heard the words, “Why do you search for the living among the dead?” they were ecstatic with joy and ran to tell the disciples.
So too Peter, on hearing the news ran to the tomb and was astounded at seeing only the linen cloths lying there. It was a similar experience for the two disciples traveling to Emmaus. They were downcast and viewed the whole thing as a failure. The man who had joined them began opening the scriptures for them. Reaching Emmaus, they recognized Jesus only in the breaking of the bread. They were overwhelmed with joy and with their hearts on fire they returned to Jerusalem to tell the others. In each case, the person underwent a change and as a result saw things differently, even felt differently.
What happens when we are overcome with surprise, with joy, with what we never dreamed could ever happen, or even thought was possible? I am sure that it is this same awesome, overwhelming feeling as new parents see their newborn child for the first time! One realizes that it is beyond us – it is a pure gift of God!
In the final appearance that evening, the two disciples were telling the others of their experience in Emmaus when suddenly Jesus stood among them and greeted them “Peace be to you.” They were frightened, even thinking it was a ghost but slowly as Jesus spoke they gained understanding. He meets people where they are! This peace of which he spoke is what restores relationships between God and the people and people among themselves.
“Jesus is filled with God’s life; and he gives God’s life to others so that they can grow strong on it. As bread nourishes the physical level, Jesus nourishes the spiritual level.” (Shea, 118) This is what Jesus offers to these individuals who after his death were trying to put it all together and make some sense of it. Jesus now opened their minds to the fuller meaning of the words he had spoken in his lifetime. He gave them the assurance they needed.
There is great similarity in the narratives of these two last appearances – that of the journey to Emmaus and in the upper room. In both instances they do not recognize Jesus and he questions their failure to recognize him. At Emmaus, Jesus blessed and broke the bread while in Jerusalem he ate in their presence. In both accounts Jesus opened the scriptures to them which led to their understanding. It seems that an encounter with the Risen Christ and an explanation of the scriptures were necessary before there was enlightenment for his followers. Once they understood, they could do nothing but proclaim the good news. As we read in today’s Psalm (4:7), “You have put gladness in my heart,” the disciples felt compelled to go out and to announce the message. They were commissioned to “preach repentance for the forgiveness of sin to all nations and to be witnesses. (24:47-48)
“Encounters with the Risen One convinced the disciples that God, in fact, decisively made good on his promise of fidelity through the death and resurrection of Jesus. But the Easter Hallelujah did not come easily for the disciples. The Easter story describes in a particularly impressive way the path of faith that the first disciples had to travel.” (Kasper 126)
For Reflection and Discussion: [1.] Can you understand and share in the disciples’ joy on hearing of Christ’s resurrection? [ 2.] Recall a time when you were completely surprised by God’s ways.
Bibliography: Walter Kasper, Mercy, The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life, (Paulist Press, 2014), John Shea, The Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers, (Collegeville, 2005)
This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by
Rita Kammermayer, nds, BA, B.Ed, Masters of Pastoral Studies, Jerusalem, Israel
Bat Kol alumni 2001
[Copyright © 2018]
PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol. Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.
Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem
“Christians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.”