April 30. 2006 - Year B - Easter 3
(And he said to them, "Peace to you.") 37 In their panic and fright they thought they were seeing a ghost, 38 but he said to them, "Why are you upset and why do such ideas cross your mind? 39 Look at my hands and feet and see that it is I myself. Touch me and see for yourselves that a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have." 40 (As he said this, he showed his hands and feet.)
41 In their joy they didn't dare believe and were still astonished. So he said to them, "Have you anything to eat?" 42 and they gave him a piece of broiled fish. 43 He took it and ate it before them.
• 44 Then Jesus said to them, "Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you: Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms had to be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he went on, 46 "You see what was written: the Messiah had to suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. 47 Then repentance and forgiveness in his name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 Now you shall be witnesses to this.
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• 36. Jesus was reborn to a glorious life from the day of his resurrection. He was already 'in the Father's glory,' but wanted to be with his disciples on various occasions in order to convince them that his new condition was not a lesser life, or something ghostly, but rather a super life.
In this chapter we put in parentheses some words or sentences that do not appear in many ancient manuscripts and which perhaps have been added later.
• 44. Jesus uses these encounters to clarify the meaning of his brief and intense mission for his apostles. He saves us from sin, which means nothing less than reordering history to resurrect humankind.
Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms had to be fulfilled. What the prophets announced, about a savior who would be rejected by his people and take the sin of his people upon himself, had to be fulfilled. What sin? Everyone's sins, of course, but also the violence of the whole Jewish society at the time of Jesus. This was the sin that brought him to the cross.
As a matter of fact, this way of death and resurrection was not reserved only for Jesus, but for his people also. In that precise period, Israel, subject to the Roman Empire, had to accept the death of its earthly ambitions: autonomy, national pride, the religious superiority of the Jews over other people… in order to rise as the people of God scattered among nations and to become the agent of salvation. A minority took the way Jesus pointed out and this was the beginning of the Church.
Repentance and forgiveness. Christian conversion is not passing from one party to another, from one religious group to another: it is a recasting of the person. Persons are part of a society, a world, a history. Therefore the preaching to the nations means also the education of the nations and even international society. This is something that takes longer than ten or a hundred years.
You shall be witnesses to this (v. 48). Jesus calls his apostles to be the official witnesses of his Gospel and those who judge authentic faith.
Remain in the city. The apostles are not able to begin immediately missionary work. They will first dedicate themselves to strengthening fellowship and the fervor of the community of the disciples, as they wait for the time chosen by the Father to give them the power coming from above.
I will send you what my Father promised. Jesus could not affirm his divine authority and the unity of the three divine persons more powerfully.
He withdrew: this was the last of Jesus' appearances to the group of disciples.
And so concludes Luke's first book. His second book, The Acts of the Apostles, follows the Gospels and it begins exactly where this Gospel ends.
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1. Repentance and forgiveness are still being proclaimed. These are important categories for life whether here in the Christian tradition or any other. Repentance and forgiveness are transcendent virtues with no restrictions on how they might be offered or received.
2. The disciples who were following Jesus came to their witnessing of repentance and forgiveness (personally and trans-personally) from the Tanakh (Law/Prophets/Writings) out of the Hebrew/Jewish tradition. There are other ways of coming to witness in favor of repentance and forgiveness. Rejoice in whatever way it came to you. Question not overmuch how others came to this same place.
3. It is but a small jump from an offering of "Peace!" to sitting down to eat together. Fortunately this is not a one-way process. We can also get to peace by having first sit together and eat together.
There is no guarantee that either beginning spot will lead to the other ending spot. There are all too many ways to subvert this process should it become a technique for some other end. But it is still good process and comes highly recommended to do.
Can you imagine a fund-raiser dinner jointly hosted by Democrats and Republicans and Third Parties? It would need to go beyond some fair and balanced division of the proceeds to a confession of how stuck each had been on a particular principle (repentance) and an appreciation for the gifts the others bring (forgiveness).
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