Sunday Scripture Readings

third sunday of easter,

April 14

Acts 2:22-28; Psalm 16;

1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35 OUR GOOD NEWS: The risen Lord remains present among us through prayer and Eucharist. The focus of Peter's proclamation (first reading) was Jesus in his humanity: "a man singled out by God" whose miracles were performed by God, and whom God "raised to life again." This approach is a matter of emphasis on Jesus' humanity - so-called Low Christology - rather than denial of Jesus' divinity. The Son's divine nature gave him no unfair advantage, for Jesus' genuine humanity was undiluted by divine privilege. Everything he did glorified the Father rather than himself. Astoundingly, although fully accredited as a "man of God" and his career a matter of public record, Jesus was nevertheless rejected and crucified by his own people, with cooperation from pagan Romans. But this appalling crime didn't herald the triumph of evil. Even in putting Jesus to death the people only carried out what God had already determined must take place, and indeed had foretold through his prophets! No other biblical text so forcibly emphasizes this paradox of divine predestination and human free will. The second half of today's first reading illustrates from prophecy (see today's psalm text) that Jesus fulfills messianic expectation. With God as his "right-hand man" Jesus can only rejoice, confident of vindication. Although a mortal being, weak and frail, in contrast to the eternal, powerful God, the Messiah could not be allowed to languish in death. Through his life and especially through his death Jesus showed himself the kind of person who had to rise into fullness of life! We follow Peter's lead in further applying today's psalm to Jesus. The speaker professes complete, ongoing dedication to and trust in God. Like Old Testament priests he was called to attend and minister before the Lord, having no other "portion" or inheritance (Dt 10:8-9). Totally obedient to the divine will, the psalmist rejoiced even through lonely, sleepless nights because of God's presence and support ("at right hand"). Rich rewards for confidence are further developed in the two final stanzas. Present pains of spirit and body cannot dampen our trust in God. Life-threatening disease or violence, even death itself, are at best temporary hindrances to "fullness of life and joy." Like Jesus, each of us accepts unavoidable suffering and death as the necessary first stages in the Paschal (Passover) mystery, leading to eternal happiness with the Father. As always, the Bible, including the Old Testament, guides our prayerful reflection on life's experiences. It interprets the deeper meaning of events, particularly suffering and loss. In dealing with his Son, God reveals his strategy for us, too. Pain and problems should deepen rather than diminish our trust in him. Thus they prepare us to receive the incomparable gift of eternal life. "You show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever" (psalm).

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