Catholic homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter Year B
Theme: The remission of sins
By: Fr. Jude Chijioke
Homily for Sunday April 18 2021
Readings: Acts 3: 13-15.17-19; 1 John 2,1-5; Luke 24: 35-48
Within the three biblical readings of today we have retrieved a theme that unites them despite their diversity, that of the remission of sins which in Easter has its source. It is not for nothing in John’s Gospel that it is on the evening of Easter itself that Jesus meets his disciples and entrusts them with the mission of offering humanity the forgiveness of sins and the possibility of returning to being new and pure creatures. In John 20: 23, he says, if you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
The first announcement of this joyful possibility is proclaimed by Peter in the speech he gave to a crowd of Jerusalemites in the “portico known as Solomon’s” of the Temple. The apostle begins with a violent indictment against sin which is always a rebellion against God, a mad attempt to “kill the author of life”. But God overcame hatred and death and became the source of life and love for man. There is only one condition to be respected: man must “repent and change his way of life”. It is this “conversion” that Jesus himself had proclaimed from the very first lines of his preaching. To repent means to renounce sin, to reject it from one’s inmost being, to willfully decide from the heart not to sin anymore. God does not ask man anything other than to sincerely proclaim before him: Father, bless me for I have sinned! This kind of blessing is not a quest for reward for having sinned, but a humble petition to God from a sinner who having understood the dangerous effects of his sins; knows that through them he has chosen to withdraw from the infinite goodness, grace and blessing of God, and now, willing to make amends in humility, love and obedience to the Word of God.
The second announcement is in that stupendous first letter of John which constitutes a great document of the theology and spirituality of the Johannine churches of Asia Minor. Forgiveness is almost represented here in a scene. Above us is the figure of God who is the just judge of human injustices; we are in front of him, crushed by repeated sins; humiliated by infidelities. But behold next to us a “lawyer, the just one, Jesus Christ” who stands up in our defense. He is the one who protects us from divine anger not with the vain words of a lawyer interested in his gain and glory, but by offering himself to the Father as a “victim of atonement for our sins and those of the whole world”. Now humanity rescued from sin and death returns to the luminous region of grace and divine love.
And gradually we come to the last announcement of forgiveness, proclaimed in our liturgy today. It is inserted in an apparition of the Risen One, that is, in an encounter of Christ with his Church. Jesus almost seems to preside over a liturgy. He introduces himself in front of us with the greeting: “Peace be with you!”; then begins a real liturgy of the Word through meditation on the Bible. Our minds open to the profound understanding of that Word which is now reread in the light of the coming of the Son of God and his victory over evil and death. In the end, Jesus invests the disciples and us with a mission, that of being witnesses of Easter throughout the world, revealing its fruitfulness and liberating power, expressed precisely in the forgiveness of sins. Easter generates new people, free from evil. As Easter people, are we resolved to forgive others? So many of us are held hostage by past hurts from our families, brothers and sisters, neighbors, friends, acquaintances. Do we let go? I invite you today to let go with the famous supplication of the psalm of Mercy, the Miserere: “A pure heart create for me O God, put a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps 51, 12).
Fr. Jude Chijioke