Third Sunday of Easter

Sunday Church at Home

during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Passed from Death to New Life.

 

The leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply: Amen

Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply: Blessed be God for ever

Leader: Like the first group of disciples, we gather in joy to celebrate the reality of the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We come to encounter the risen Lord and to witness to our faith.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Acts 3:13-15.17-19ab

Introduction to the reading: Chapter three of the Acts of the Apostles describes how Peter and John healed a lame man who sat begging each day at the gate of the temple. The people were astonished at this miracle. Peter used the opportunity to give a sermon encouraging the people to believe in Jesus. We hear a portion of that sermon now.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

In those days:
Peter said to the people,
“The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob,
the God of our ancestors,
glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate,
when he had decided to release him.
But you denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
and killed the Author of life,
whom God raised from the dead.
To this we are witnesses.
“And now, brethren,
I know that you acted in ignorance,
as did also your rulers.
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.
Repent therefore, and turn again,
that your sins may be blotted out.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 4:2.4.7.9 (R. 7b)

Let us pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.

I called, the God of justice gave me answer;
from anguish you released me, have mercy and hear me!

Know that the Lord works wonders for his faithful one;
the Lord will hear me whenever I call him.

“What can bring us happiness?” many say.
Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.

In peace I will lie down and fall asleep,
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

R/. Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.

Second Reading: 1 John 2:1-5a

Introduction to the reading: Each Sunday during this Easter Season, we are reading from the first letter of John. It was written for the community from which the fourth Gospel emerged. At the time, this community was seriously divided. Some members believed that as long as you had faith in Jesus, it didn’t matter what you did in daily life. Today’s passage deals with that issue.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint John

My little children,
I am writing this to you so that you may not sin;
but if anyone does sin,
we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous;
and he is the expiation for our sins,
and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
And by this we may be sure that we know him,
if we keep his commandments.
He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
but whoever keeps his word,
in him truly love for God is perfected.

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia. Alleluia.
Lord Jesus, open the scriptures to us; make our hearts burn with love when you speak to us.
Alleluia.

Gospel: Luke 24:35-48

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke

At that time:
The two disciples told what had happened on the road,
and how Jesus was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
As they were saying this,
Jesus himself stood among them,
and said to them, “Peace to you.”
But they were startled and frightened
and supposed that they saw a spirit.
And he said to them, “Why are you troubled,
and why do questionings rise in your hearts?
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.”
And when he had said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered,
he said to them,
“Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
and he took it and ate before them.
Then he said to them,
“These are my words which I spoke to you,
while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
and said to them,
“Thus it is written,
that the Christ should suffer
and on the third day rise from the dead,
and that repentance and forgiveness of sins
should be preached in his name to all nations,
beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.

The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection on the Readings 

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Homily

It was his first Sunday in the parish, and the congregation were on full alert to form their initial judgment of their new parish priest. His homily was excellent. This was a great relief to all. The following Sunday the crowds had increased significantly, probably because the good news had gone around during the week. 

To the surprise of those who were there the previous Sunday, the priest proceeded to give the exact same sermon. They excused this in the belief that there were so many new-comers this morning, which was all very well until the next Sunday, the next Sunday, and, indeed, the following Sunday, the very same sermon!

 

Two or three of the parishioners decided to approach him as diplomatically as possible, to talk to him about how they felt about what was happening. They were extremely diplomatic. 

“That’s a very good sermon, Father.”

“Oh, thank you very much. I’m glad you found it helpful.”

“We were just wondering, Father, if you realise that you have given the exact same sermon for the past five Sundays.” 

“Oh. Yes, I know that,” replied the priest.

“Well, Father, without wishing to be offensive, but we have to have an answer for those who sent us in here, do you have any other sermons?” 

“Oh, of course, I have plenty of other sermons.” 

“Well Father, you will be going on to one of the other sermons, won’t you?” 

“Of course, I will,” replied the priest. 

“When will that be, Father?” 

“I promise you that I will move to the next sermon— as soon as I see you doing something about the first one!”

 

If we don’t get the truth of Resurrection, what is the point of any further discussion? 

We have all heard the story before. 

Two disciples walked to a small town called Emmaus, about 11 km from Jerusalem. They were sorrowful—I suppose in the same way all people tend to be when a relative has died. The disciples’ hero was dead, the man they had thought was the messiah.

Suddenly, they were joined by a stranger. He began explaining to them the story of Christ as foretold in the Hebrew scriptures. When the three of them arrived at Emmaus, they ate, and, as he broke the bread, the men knew in a flash, just who he was. 

Then suddenly he disappeared. 

These same men ran to Jerusalem as fast as they could, to tell the eleven apostles about this extraordinary revelation. 

This is where the Gospel of today takes up the story. 

The two disciples were babbling and prattling, being so excited about their encounter with the Risen Lord. But in the midst of this excitement, suddenly, without warning, Jesus appeared.

  “They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.”

Jesus replied that ghosts do not have flesh and bones, do they? 

“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.”

He showed them his hands and feet, with the wounds of the cross now made beautiful by God’s love.

Then comes Jesus’ best move, a compassionate one. He says he is hungry. How much more un-ghostly could you get?  He helps himself to the baked fish they bring him, just as he had done so often in their life together.

He begins to explain the events which had seemed like pure disaster: the passion, death, and burial in particular. He recalls everything written about him “in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms,” just as he had done for the two men on the road to Emmaus. He tells why the Son of Man had had to suffer, die, and be then be raised.

How did he explain it to his followers?

Surely he spoke about the book of Job, a man who had been loving and moral, but had lost absolutely everything, which led to a direct encounter with God. We can see this as a prefiguring of the crucifixion.

And of course, the Book of Isaiah must have been part of it:

It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5).

This passage is the heart and soul of Hebrew scriptures, and of the fulfillment that was Jesus, according to our Catholic belief.

What about the resurrection?

Here is Isaiah again, words had been written centuries before Jesus:

Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty (Isaiah 53:11-12).

Jesus opens the Scriptures for us too: 

  • when we turn to the Scriptures with grateful hearts and prayers of thanks; 
  • when, like those first disciples, we are startled and afraid; 
  • when we come up against roadblocks life puts in our way; 
  • when we have met a dead end and stumble in our faith; 
  • when we need our minds opened to God and God’s ways; 
  • when we need our faith strengthened to believe that Jesus is truly risen; 
  • when we want to witness to others that Christ is alive and with us now. 

For this and more, Jesus opens the Scriptures to us.

There, in the Scriptures, guided by the Holy Spirit, we discover our Easter God, who transforms frightened disciples into bold witnesses, willing to die for their Lord. 

In fulfillment of the words from Scripture, the apostles experienced a conversion.

That is why Peter went off to preach what God “had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer,” and would die and be glorified. (Acts 3:18)

This is the “rest of the story” of Emmaus. And now, since Easter, the rest of our own story. 

We can trust that the Spirit of the risen Christ is with us. The risen Christ is sending us to be his witnesses of hope to a despondent and pandemic-weary world.

From the Acts of the Apostles:

Peter said to the people….
(you) killed the Author of life,
whom God raised from the dead. 
To this we are witnesses.

Reflection:

After curing a crippled beggar, Peter announces what the first generation of Christians and we believe: Christ is raised from the dead and a new age has dawned. The old order of death is passing away. Jesus is alive and his followers are showing in their words and actions bold signs of his healing presence working with them.

So we ask ourselves: 

  • Can I name some ways I witness to my faith in the risen Christ? 
  • How am I a sign to others of Jesus’ healing presence in the world? 

Prayer of the Faithful 

Leader: What can bring us happiness?” today’s psalm asks. Our hope lies in God alone, to whom we now confidently present our needs.

Reader:

We pray for every member of the Church: (pause) that we may continue to encounter the risen Lord in deeply personal ways and courageously bear witness to his love by our lives. 

LORD HEAR US

We pray for South Africa: (pause) that we all will have the opportunity and the openness to respond to the message of life and reconciliation which the Gospel offers. 

LORD HEAR US

We pray for those who find it hard to believe or who have been damaged by people of faith: (pause) that the words of hope and new life promised by the Gospel may become a reality in their lives. 

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all those who suffer for their faith in Christ: (pause) that as they stand with the Lord in his passion, so they may experience his presence today. 

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are suffering terribly from the coronavirus: (pause)  that we may stand in solidarity with them, and lift them up to the God of mercy and compassion. 

LORD HEAR US

We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time,

LORD HEAR US

We pray for Stanley Jacobitz who died during the week.  

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine on him.  

May he rest in peace.  Amen

Leader: Let us pray our Easter prayer:

Lord God,
you loved the world so much,
that you gave your only Son,
that we might be called your children too.
Lord, help us to live in the gladness
and grace of Easter everyday.
Let us have hearts of thankfulness for your sacrifice.
Let us have eyes that look upon your grace
and rejoice in our salvation.
Help us to walk in that mighty grace
and tell your good news to the world.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
Amen.

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader: Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us: 

All say: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader: God of all the prophets,
you fulfilled your promise of old
that your Christ would suffer and so rise to glory.

Open our minds to understand the Scriptures
and fill us with joyful wonder in the presence of the risen Christ,
that we may be his witnesses to the farthest reaches of the earth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead,
who lives and reigns with you now and always
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

Easter Blessing

Leader: Through the resurrection of Jesus
God has redeemed us and made us his children.
May God bless us with joy. 

All: Amen.

Leader: Our Redeemer has given us lasting freedom.
May we inherit everlasting life. 

All: Amen. 

Leader: By faith, we rose with Jesus in baptism.
May our lives be holy,
so that we will be united with Jesus for ever.

All: Amen. 

Leader: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All: Amen.