3rd Sunday of Easter Year C 2016:
The Church canonizes saints for 2 reasons. First, we believe that they are in heaven; so, we ask them to pray for us. We know that they are near God, and we want them to intercede on our behalf. Second, we can look to their lives and see examples for our own life. Hopefully the lives of the saints inspire us to do likewise. So, we have saints for 2 reasons: prayer and inspiration, intercession and example.
Last week, we looked at St. Faustina Kowalska. She was like an apostle of divine mercy. She can pray for us and we can see her as an example of how to welcome the mercy of God into our lives.
This week, we look at the apostles. We see them in the first reading and in the gospel. So, let’s look to them for prayer and example. In the first reading, we hear: they were rejoicing to be found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. Think about that, in the face of suffering and persecution, they rejoiced. Not me! I’m not very good at suffering, fasting, self-denial, dishonor. But, not the apostles. They rejoiced. They lived their whole lives like that too. Many of them suffered and died as martyrs. What a strong faith they had. They remained faithful to Christ even with pressure and difficulty. I don’t know about you, but I find the Acts of the Apostles extremely inspirational. These apostles were amazing witnesses to the faith. When I hear these stories I want to be like them and do what they did. So, it’s good to ask them to pray for us. St. Peter: help me to be bold in my faith. St. Andrew, help me to tell people about Jesus. St. John: Help me to know Jesus as well as you did. The saints are not just historical figures. They are alive. Don’t be afraid to call on them for intercession.
But, they are also great examples for us. They suffered, and they stayed strong. How about us? Now there is no doubt that there are Christians being persecuted here and around the world. But, I can say for me, that the more subtle temptation we face these days is the temptation toward mediocrity, towards being lukewarm. It can be easy to be comfortable and complacent about our faith. But, the apostles weren’t lukewarm, they weren’t complacent. They were bold, daring, and inspirational. If we want to be the same, we can learn from the apostles.
The apostles weren’t always bold and daring. Remember what happened after the Last Supper? They all ran away, they denied Jesus. So, how did they go from being weak and lukewarm to being bold and daring? I think the gospel passage shows it all.
The passage begins: Jesus revealed himself to them. The apostles knew Jesus. He wasn’t just a myth or a nice story. To them, and to us, he is a living and real person. Not only did they meet Jesus. They also loved him. Jesus asks Peter 3 times: do you love me? Peter’s yes says it all. How did Peter go from denying Jesus to being bold and daring: he encountered the risen Christ and he loved him. This is our program for becoming dynamic disciples of Christ.
Jesus revealed himself to the disciples today on the seashore when he invited them to a meal. And it’s still a meal where Jesus reveals himself to us. This meal. This holy Eucharist. This is why the Mass is such an important part of our spiritual life. The Mass is the place where Jesus continues to make himself known to us. He reveals himself to us in the breaking of the bread. How do we respond? Peter responded: Lord, you know that I love you. Hopefully, the more we meet Christ here at Mass, the more we are filled with Love for him.