Readings and Reflections

St Peter’s/St Joseph’s Bidding Prayers
17th / 18th April 2021
Third Sunday of Easter

Priest:
Jesus filled the disciples with great joy when he appeared to them.   Let us ask for that same joy as we celebrate his resurrection.

Reader:
Jesus explained the scriptures to his disciples:  May he give us the gift of understanding to see how he is at work in our lives.                          

Lord hear us.

Jesus allowed his disciples to touch his body:   May we realise that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.                                                     

Lord hear us.

Jesus sends his disciples to preach to all nations:   May we witness to his love in the way we live our lives.                                                        

Lord hear us.

Jesus always had a special care and love of little children:   May he guide our children and grandchildren as they return to school.                    

Lord hear us.
We pray for those who have died recently, especially Chris Carr, and for those whose anniversaries occur at about this time.  May they join Jesus in the resurrection of the dead.                                                                          

Lord hear us.

Let us ask the risen Lord Jesus to explain to us the things that puzzle us and to drive all doubts from our minds.
[After a pause]                                                                                             

Lord hear us.

When Mary said “yes” to God’s invitation she set in train events that led to his resurrection.   We ask her to present our prayers to her son.     

Hail Mary….

Priest:
Jesus gives us joy through his resurrection.   We make these prayers through him for he is the Lord who now lives for ever and ever.            

Amen.

 

 

 

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter
Sunday, 18th April 2021

 

If you do not have a copy of the missalette, you can find today’s readings at www.universalis .com

 

Luke condenses all of the resurrection appearances of Jesus into a single day, but what a busy day it was!   It begins with the woman finding the empty tomb.   They are told by an angel that Jesus is risen and they are instructed to tell the disciples.   Then the story switches to the road to Emmaus, where Jesus encounters two disciples escaping from Jerusalem.   At supper in the inn they recognise Jesus in the breaking of the bread and rush back to tell the other disciples what has happened.   Presumably very late at night, they arrive back in Jerusalem to tell their story, and this is where today’s gospel begins.   Jesus appears to them as a group.

 

Luke’s focus is on Jesus explaining to the 11 about the meaning of scripture.   The two on the road to Emmaus found that “their hearts burnt within them” as he explained the scriptures to them.   And now again, in the upper room he explains “everything written about him in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms”.   They all predicted that the Messiah must suffer and then rise from the dead.   What a wonderful Old Testament lesson this must have been.   The reason for his passion and death is also explained:   “The Christ must suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, so that in his name repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem”.   The disciples are given their mission statement for what they must do after the Spirit has come upon them at Pentecost.

 

Of course, Luke himself was not present when all of this took place, but he would certainly have been able to speak to those who were there.   His account is based on the experiences of first hand witnesses to the resurrection.   Luke understands the methodology of Jesus:   He begins with what the disciples already believe, the Old Testament, but then opens their eyes to understand what they believe in a completely new way, resulting in a radical new message.

 

Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, where we see the experience of encountering the risen Lord translated into action.   The disciples have to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which happens at Pentecost, some 50 days after the celebration of the Passover, but now the Holy Spirit takes charge and these frightened men are transformed into audacious and fearless apostles.   All during the Easter season we read from the Acts of the Apostles which charts how the early church spread and grew.   The Acts of the Apostles is sometimes called “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit”.

 

Throughout the first half of the Acts, Peter and John take centre stage, as they continue to minister exclusively to the Jews in Jerusalem, explaining how Jesus is the fulfilment of their own religion.   In today’s first reading, Peter puts down the treatment of Jesus to ignorance of who he truly is, but places Jesus firmly at the centre of their faith.   Later in Acts, when Paul becomes the focus, the message begins to be spread outside of exclusively Jewish communities.   Paul has to change tack.   Instead of portraying Jesus as the fulfilment of Jewish expectations, he is portrayed as the one who has been at the heart of their lives, but without them knowing that he was this spiritual force that was leading them to the truth.

 

We see this especially when Paul visits Athens and marvels at all of the magnificent temples and altars.   He notices that one is dedicated to the “unknown god”.   The Greeks wanted to hedge their bets and make sure that no god felt left out!   Paul explains that their “unknown god” is in fact the one true God who sent Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.   Paul takes as his point of departure what the residents of Athens already believe and explains what Jesus has done from within their understanding of religion.

 

In this Easter season we are invited to do the same.   The message about Jesus dying and then rising from the dead is not something alien to our experience and understanding, but rather the explanation of who we are and what we are called to be.   We can imagine how Paul might begin to evangelise our secular world and place Jesus at the centre of who we are.   We pray that the grace of the resurrection will transform our minds, our hearts and our lives.