by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Third Sunday of Easter Homily, April 15, 2018:
Today’s readings tell us that Jesus Christ is recognized as the Lord and Messiah, the Son of God, and Savior of the world in two bodies which people can see and touch.
The first is the lame man in the Acts of the Apostles. Peter and John heal this lame man so he can walk again. He does, into the Temple with Peter and John. The Jews are astounded. They knew this man was lame from birth. He was brought up to the Temple gates to beg for alms. Peter says to him, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk.” He does. God healed him through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John tell the people the lame man was healed by faith in the name of Jesus, whom “you handed over and denied.” The Jews in the Temple see this lame man now healed. St. Peter points to Jesus as the messianic Servant of the Lord whom God exalts and lifts up. St. Peter says God is vindicating His Servant, Jesus Christ. St. Peter addressed the lame man in Jesus’s name and he was healed. In this act, God showed that He had raised Jesus from the dead and was honoring His Name. St. Peter’s speech convicts those Jews of wrongdoing but does not condemn them. St. Peter gives them the chance to repent. If the Jews repent, they can be forgiven of their sins. St. Peter uses God’s healing of this lame man to illustrate that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, who was killed and is now resurrected. Jesus is God’s Son and faith in Him and in His Name saves us from sin and death.
The second body is that of Jesus Christ Himself. St. Luke’s gospel reading today tells of the two men who saw Jesus Christ Himself “in the breaking of the bread.” That is an important phrase. Jesus Christ gives Himself to the Church in word and sacrament. Then, Jesus appeared to the disciples. Jesus says “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). The marks of the crucifixion authenticate Jesus’s risen body as the same one that was crucified days earlier. It is important that recognition of the risen Lord Jesus Christ comes “in the breaking of the bread.”
It takes faith, a new set of eyes, to recognize the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts can burn within us in this Church, in Holy Mass, in Eucharist, Jesus’s own Body and Blood. The body that the disciples touched is the same body that Jesus says is in Eucharist, which He instituted at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. The breaking of the bread was the first description of Holy Mass, the Liturgy. Jesus explains to His Apostles and Disciples that He had to suffer, die, and rise on the third day. Jesus’s Resurrection raises our souls to new life in grace and will later raise our bodies in glory. Jesus is recognized by the eyes of faith. When we see Jesus with eyes of faith, we recognize Jesus’s Body and Blood in Eucharist, in Sacred Scripture, and in this very Mass, which reveals Jesus in both. With eyes of faith, we can repent of our sins and be guaranteed of Jesus’s forgiveness. We can also be guaranteed of the graces He gives us in both. Those two bodies, the one of the healed lame man, and the other of Jesus Christ Himself, give us forgiveness, love, mercy, and eternal life.