|3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
1 John 2:1-5z
So as to be more available to the Easter graces of these readings, picture to yourself Jesus eating some fish which he holds in one hand and extends the other hand to display his wound. He finishes eating and picks up some scrolls and begins showing the disciples the exact texts from their scriptures which apply to him as the Suffering Servant. They keep looking at him with amazement and some incredulity.
We come to the Eucharist surrounded with other believers, some of whom have just entered our Eucharistic community. Whether we are lifers or rookies, we attend so to be available to Jesus' coming to show us and give us encouragement and mission. He has risen to keep us rising. We pray to hear the encouraging words again that he has indeed risen, appeared and missions us to extend his peace and reconciliation. We pray to be healed and lifted up as the man at the Beautiful Gate. We pray for his joyful "jumping" in our lives that by the manner of our "jumping" all others will come to believe in his resurrection in our lives. We pray for peace, joy and even "jumpiness."
The miracle becomes a launching pad for Peter to remind his Jewish listeners that the God of their ancient fathers is the God who has glorified Jesus whom their leaders have handed over to death. That God has raised Jesus, and Peter and John are witnesses. This Jesus has fulfilled the prophets' writings on how this Christ would suffer. Peter invites them then to repent and they too will be healed as is this once-crippled person.
We hear from Luke's Gospel today. The two disciples, whom Jesus met on their way from Jerusalem to Emaos and to whom Jesus revealed himself in the breaking of bread after reviewing their scriptures, now are pictured back in Jerusalem. They are witnessing to this great event and almost as a "visual aid," Jesus appears in their midst. As with his appearance to the two men on their way to Emaos, Jesus presides at a kind of Eucharistic liturgy himself. He shows them himself to be risen and quite in his own body. He eats something and then again breaks into the minds by breaking open the Scriptures which predict his suffering, death and resurrection. Then there is the missioning; they are prepared to extend his resurrection to others by preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins. We Jesuits had a two-hour seminar recently, on celebrating properly the Eucharistic liturgy. The two who presented and directed the session were brave fellows; two hours of a Sunday afternoon, now that's Lent for you. We didn't argue much among ourselves, (very unJesuit), but some things became a bit clearer. Today's Readings help explain some important features of this communal celebration of the Lords' death and resurrection.
Whose liturgy am I discussing? The appearances of Jesus after
his rising were all formative of community. The only single person,
whom he met, he sent to fetch the others, Mary Magdala. So the liturgy
of the Eucharist doesn't belong to anybody exactly or exclusively.
The "Gathered" or "called" hold the liturgy in common, but Jesus holds
on to it as well. He presents himself right in the midst of strong,
medium and weak believers. Thomas was not the only "doubter" and
in today's Gospel, we see some of the "gathered" terrified and "incredulous."
The Presider is one of those at any one time. "Priest-Sider" that's
a very good name for a fellow such as I. Jesus is side-by-side with these
"gathered" and without them there is no liturgy. He comes, calls, gathers
and then reminds them all that he has risen so as to raise them. So we
provide ourselves and he provides his presence and blesses those "selves"
" present and reminds them who he says they are.
There is the "fish" of course. A fish was then and still is a symbol of Christ in the very early church. They must have been eating some when he appeared and had a little himself. He was the "real presence" for them and they too recognized him in the eating of the fish. So two affirmations are present; the "gathered" and the "real presence." Jesus reviews the scriptures with them which announce his truth and they then recognize him in the breaking of the word. So the liturgy seems to be private. It belongs exclusively to those present; the "gathered" and the "priest-sider." When Jesus made himself present and real, he then expanded their vision, their lives. "Out you go" he would say in one way or other. Beginning in Jerusalem and then out to all the nations, the preaching of the forgiveness of sins extends the liturgy into time and space. The disciples, the "gathered" are then dispensed, missioned, to be "co-siders" or "pre-siders" to all who are "called" to "gather." Peter and John dispensed what they had received. They allowed the resurrection of Jesus to be made real in the life of one once-crippled man. The Church grew the "old fashioned way," one such person at a time. So what is the answer to the question about whose liturgy is it? It is not mine, I know that. It is ours, but who are the "ours?" Jesus has his gloriously-wounded hands all over it, that's for sure. The "gathered" have their hands holding it together. The "nations" the "others" those "over there"; they have their hands tenuously touching it too. He has come to form me into a we and the we are to make Him real and present beginning from within the new Jerusalem, the Church. From "vision" to "mission," from "inside" to "pre-side," from "gathered" to "scattered" the liturgy belongs.
"Let all the earth cry out to God with joy" Ps.
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