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A Scripture Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter

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by Barbara E. Reid, OP | April 14, 2018

A Scripture Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2018

Readings:

First Reading: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Second Reading: 1 John 2:1-5a

Gospel: Luke 24:35-48

 

You are Witnesses

"It is I myself" (Luke 24:39)

The gospel for today has many resonances with the gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter (John 20:19-31). In both accounts the risen Christ appears to the disciples and stands "in their midst." In both, his first words are "Peace be with you," and then he shows them his hands, feet, and side. In both accounts the disciples move from terror to joy. Both stories end with a sending of the disciples in mission.

Despite the many similarities, the theological emphases in the two accounts are quite different. Luke's focus is on the identity of the risen Christ and his reality and tangibility. Unlike the story of Thomas in John's Gospel, which focuses on believing, in the Gospel of Luke, the reason for the disciples seeing and touching Jesus' hands and feet is to convince them that the Risen One is the same Jesus who was crucified, and who still bears the marks of this on his body, though he is real and alive. Jesus is not just a memory that lives on, nor is he a haunting ghost; instead he is truly alive and tangible. Unlike the preceding Emmaus scene, where Jesus' eating with the two disciples is revelatory and eucharistic, in today's gospel Jesus' eating serves as proof that he is truly alive and tangible in bodily form.

In the second half of Luke's Gospel, the focus shifts to the mission of the disciples to be witnesses to the suffering Messiah who is raised. Key to being a witness is understanding of the Scriptures, as well as repentance and forgiveness of sins. These same emphases are echoed in the first reading. Peter's speech is set in Solomon's Portico in the temple; it follows his healing of a man who was crippled and who begged daily at the "Beautiful Gate." Peter harshly accuses his fellow Jews, placing on them all the blame for handing over Jesus and putting to death the "author of life." But the gospel writer's focus is not on fixing blame for the death of Jesus; rather, the focus is on God's power in raising Jesus.

Peter excuses all those who were complicit in Jesus' death, saying that they acted out of ignorance. This is similar to what the Lukan Jesus does as he prays from the cross, "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do" (23:34). Luke consistently portrays Jesus as a rejected prophet and explains his death as fulfillment of Scripture. The notion of a suffering Messiah, found in the first reading, and the gospel, is one that occurs only in Lukan writings (Luke 24:26, 46; Acts 3:18; 17:3; 26:23); it is not found in any Old Testament texts.

Immediately linked to the affirmation that the Messiah must suffer is the invitation to repentance and forgiveness. Repentance and acceptance of forgiveness is not guilt-induced; it is the only adequate response to God's gift of new life offered in restored relationship with the risen Christ. Witnessing to this love and power begins at home (Jerusalem), and then radiates out "to all the nations."

PRAYING WITH SCRIPTURE

1. How is a deeper understanding of the Scriptures enabling you to be a witness to the risen Christ?

2. Allow the peace of Christ to heal any wounds you nurse.

 

 

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Author information Barbara E. Reid, OP

Vice President and Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament Studies
M.A., Aquinas College; Ph.D., The Catholic University of America

Barbara Reid is a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She holds a Masters from Aquinas College in Religious Studies and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  She is the author of Abiding Word: Sunday Reflections for Year B (Liturgical Press, 2011; Year C, 2012, Year A, 2013), Taking Up the Cross: New Testament Interpretations Through Latina and Feminist Eyes (Fortress Press, 2007; Spanish translation: Reconsiderar la Cruz, Editorial Verbo Divino, 2009), The Gospel According to Matthew, New Collegeville Bible Commentary Series (Liturgical Press, 2005), Parables for Preachers (3 volumes; Liturgical Press, 1999, 2000, 2001; Spanish translation: Las Parábolas: Predicándolas y Viviéndolas (Ciclo A, B, 2008, 2009), Choosing the Better Part? Women in the Gospel of Luke (Liturgical Press, 1996), A Retreat With St. Luke (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2000), and many journal articles.  Her latest book is Wisdom's Feast: An Invitation to Feminist Interpretation of the Scriptures (Eerdman’s Press, 2016). She is General Editor for Wisdom Commentary Series, a new 58-volume feminist commentary on the Bible (Liturgical Press). Her introduction to the series can be downloaded for free at www.wisdomcommentary.org.

breid@ctu.edu

Books written by Barbara Reid

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