SCRIPTURE COMMENTARY FOR THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
Categories: Father Fay's Section
Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us;
make our hearts burn while you speak to us see Luke 24:32.
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Some higher ups in the Jewish community considered Peter and the Apostles as uneducated men (Acts 4:13) and belittled them and Jesus for originating from Galilee (John 7:52). This passage today shows otherwise. Jesus did a good job in choosing Peter to be the leader. He probably did not have the formal education as others may have had but he shows wisdom of faith not matched by his opponents. This speech is placed about 50 days (Pentecost) after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through grace of God Peter has put it all together. He recognized that Jesus was the Messiah of God spoken extensively in the scriptures of old and what is more the suffering of Jesus was for the glory of God. What might amaze us the most about Peter and what he said was his ability to interpret God’s word and especially here the psalms. He presents Psalm 16 as a Christian psalm, i.e. that Christ is the fulfilment of what God had done and said long ago. In this way Peter exemplifies what Christ Jesus was telling the disciples at Emmaus they must do (see today’s Gospel), namely study the scriptures and come to a deep understanding of them. Through all of this Peter shows us his own understanding of the scriptures revealed through the resurrection of Christ and calls us to do the same. He expressed this magnificently in his First Letter (1:25) by saying: the word of the Lord remains forever. He put this all together and believed that Jesus is risen to complete God’s plan as the Messiah.
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11 (11a)
Lord, you will show us the path of life.
We, too, understand much better why Peter chose to explain Psalm 16 from a Christ point of view. He will show us the path of life. Peter knew first hand that this is what Jesus did. Peter’s months of being the company of Jesus built up within him “family ties” and kept Peter at his right hand. But probably most of all I set the Lord ever before me. Peter had nowhere else to go – Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Jesus being raised from the dead proved Peter right. As he mentioned in his Pentecost speech because you (O God) will not suffer to your faithful one to undergo corruption. Since the psalm is attributed to King David Saint Peter in his understanding of this scripture refers to the perpetuity of kingship in the house of David. The risen Christ of the house of David fulfills God’s promise. Resurrection of Christ is real and so is ours.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
You will show me the path to life,
abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
O Lord, our God, you are eternally happy for us. Let we, your own people, look forward in joy and hope today as we did in our younger days when you first chose us, so that our happiness this day of Easter, knowing our status as adopted sons and daughters of yours has been restored in the resurrection of your Son, helps us move forward in life with the unshakeable hope of eternal happiness which you have promised and are keeping this day.
This prayer of the Church flows from the word of God we have today and during this whole Easter Season. Joy is the hallmark of our Easter celebration. God has made his people happy and the raising of Jesus from the dead is the reason for it. So he gathers us this day into his presence and makes us happy reminding us that he wants us to be his family as sons and daughters of his. He proved his love by revealing his covenant love as stronger than death. Through the Easter Mastery we all have hope that our future is living in communion with the Lord as sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. Left to our sins such a future was in doubt. But with the resurrection of Jesus who dies no more the inheritance is guaranteed to us. God will not go back on his word. So with the Church we ask for unshakable hope.
1 Peter 1:17-21
This is from the Letter from which I quoted earlier: the word of God is forever. The shedding of Christ’s blood and his being raised from the dead makes it imperative that we let God be in our lives. He is the only one who can raise the dead, i.e. he is eternal and he placed in our hearts the desire to live forever. So Peter advises us to live a holy (Godlike) life since all our hope is in him. Peter makes a statement that is filled with meaning when he says: you were ransomed from your futile conduct by the precious blood of Christ who offered himself as the sacrifice to the Father. He contrast the blood of the living Christ to silver or gold which we consider precious metals. Remember the blood of Christ in scripture terms means the whole Christ, the living Person. Underlying all this is that our relationship with God is a personal encounter. It is not paying some money to get what we want. Rather it is an exchange with the living Christ which alone will give us the true peace and communion we seek. So when easting Christ’s Body and drinking his Blood our salvation is at work, our personal relationship with Christ our Savior is being built up — our personal relationship deepens, our attachment and friendship is secured. That is the effect of the Blood.
This is one of the favorite passages in the Gospels. Because of its length and detail it offers much for meditation and prayer. Today I want to approach it from its revelation of the mercy of God — this is not considered frequently enough. Some of these thoughts are given randomly but you will see how they fit in with my previous remarks on the faithful mercy covenant love of God.
The merciful love of God happens over a period of time and affects more persons that it seems on the surface. The Emmaus disciples evidently we good and faithful Jews, steeped in the history and traditions of God’s people. If not, they would not have followed Jesus in the first place. So God showed his love for them from the beginning of their lives and before. On the other end their coming to faith in the risen Lord was not just their own possession. Rather they immediately wanted to share it. That is why they returned to Jerusalem and their fellow believers right away. So the merciful love was widespread and interconnected, i.e. is was Covenant wide. The individuals received mercy and love along with the rest of the people. Mercy is linked to mercy for the whole Church.
Secondly, their time with Christ, the receiving of mercy and forgiveness was not just a few minutes. Presumably the encounter went along for hours and they wanted it to continue. So do not think of the Sacrament of Penance has taking place in a few seconds of the clock. Christ brought them slowly to accept his merciful love.
Thirdly, the word of God is part of the pardoning process. The risen Lord himself explained/interpreted what the Father had been doing and was doing right now. The penitent needs to let God speak to him —especially in a liturgical setting, e.g. at Mass. So the Sacrament of Penance is related to participation at Mass. In a sense every Eucharist (the whole Eucharist) is an examination of conscience — a call to be holy, more Godlike. This, too, brings out the community aspects of God’s faithful merciful love and connects it with the Covenant. At Emmaus Jesus open the scriptures to both disciples at once, in a “community setting.” Speaking of the Covenant — the ultimate sin is not accepting God’s invitation to live the Covenant with him. So this is why we must obey the Commandments because they are Commandments of the Covenant — recall the two tablets from God on Mt. Sinai.
Fourthly, the breaking of the bread (total Eucharist) is thanksgiving to God for giving us the Blood of Christ as the sign of the new and eternal Covenant. Accepting mercy and forgiveness in this way carries with it going forth from the Mass with the resolve to live Christ daily. So mercy is not just during the time of the ritual but accepting the grace day by day by living up to the Covenant. The purpose of amendment is an integral part of accepting God’s mercy. The Emmaus disciples acted right away by going back to Jerusalem and presumably did so for the rest of their lives.
This Gospel passage is a great story of mercy.
Commentary Easter _3