Saturday, April 18, 2015

3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Ps 4:2, 4, 7-8,9
Lk 24:35-48

During the Easter Season many of the first readings on both Sundays and weekdays are taken from Acts of the Apostles.  This will continue until the end of the Easter Season.  Acts was written by St. Luke who also wrote today's Gospel.  Academics often refer to Luke-Acts so as to emphasize the common authorship of the two books.

Whereas the Gospel of Luke recounts the story of Jesus in much the same way as the other three Gospels, Acts is the story of the first years of the community that came to be known as The Church.  Acts is an important story because it is our story. It is the story of us as Church. Pay attention to the readings from Acts over the next weeks. You will hear of the growth of the Church and the challenges the community faced. You will hear of the arguments, the infighting, and the jealousies. You will also hear about the care extended to the poor and less fortunate. You will hear of the coming together into community of those who believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. It is a fascinating story.  The Church wasn't easy then just as it isn't easy today.

In the reading from Acts Peter gives a very short summary of the prophecies about Jesus, the Christ, the anointed one.  He also assures his hearers that they and their leaders acted out of ignorance when they crucified Jesus.  But remember, this was some time after the fact.  How long did it take Peter and the others who witnessed Jesus’ passion and death, to truly understand the resurrection?  How long did it take before they were able to internalize the fact that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead?  How long does it take us to realize who Jesus is?  In the days immediately following Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, his followers' predominant emotions were confusion and consternation.  They were living these events in real time.  Jesus had foretold his passion and death but none of those who heard him really understood.  It is likely that they didn't truly understand until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon them.

There is an odd but important detail in today's Gospel.  After greeting His astonished disciples Jesus ate a piece of fish in front of them. He did so for a specific reason.  Jesus ate to prove that he had indeed risen bodily from the dead.  He ate a bit of solid food to demonstrate to their uncertain hearts and confused minds that he was not a ghost, that he was not a spirit, that he was not an hallucination. 

He said, “Touch me and see,because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”  He requested something to eat as if to prove His resurrection before they could doubt.  Only corporal beings need to eat.  Only physical beings are able to eat.  By eating a piece of fish in front of them Jesus gave proof to the prophecy, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.. .”  It was not a ghost standing before them. It was Jesus, risen from the dead. 

We have something in common with those disciples. Whenever we gather at the altar Jesus is as much present to us as He was to His disciples in that room. Thus we too can sing out with the psalmist:

“O Lord, our Lord,
how glorious is your name
over all the earth!”
Going through photos as I prepare to give some lectures.  Four years ago at this time we were getting ready to drive from Sevenhill, South Australia back to Sydney, a trek of 17 hours.  We did not even try to make it in one day.  Spent one night in Hay, NSW a very tiny town that give in the middle of nowhere a new depth of meaning.  Two of us would have been happy to spend three days on the return trip but the other two wanted to get back as soon as possible.  There was no way we could split up despite driving in two cars.  Half of the men had driven out to Sevenhill and flew back.  We flew out and drove back.  I'll never drive 17 hours in two days again.  It was a great trip but it almost killed me.  I limited my driving to the highways and turned over the keys as we approached Sydney. 

We left from the Jesuit community in Adelaide that was attached to a prep school.  The skies were threatening as we left but the rain never materialized. 

Good thing we had reservations at a motel that the tertian master used every year.  The Saltbush Motor Inn had no vacancies. 

Hay is so isolated that it was the site of concentration camps for Japanese POW's during WW II.  Even if a prisoner escaped he would die in the Outback.  I imagine there was even less there then than there is now.   The four of us stayed in a motel.  There were only three rooms available so Vincent and I bunked together.  I took this in the early morning as we were preparing to leave.

Before we left Hay we stopped at a bakery for breakfast and coffee. 

We bought some hot cross buns for nibbling on the final 8 hours of the drive.

 The Outback Cafe in West Wyalong, a short stop to stretch legs, was open.  

 +Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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