Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012 (cycle B)

commentary by Scott Hahn

Acts 4:8-12
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 29
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18

The Shepherd’s Voice
Jesus, in Sunday’s Gospel reading, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.
He is the shepherd-prince, the new David—who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10-13, 23-31).
His flock includes other sheep, He says, far more than the dispersed children of Israel (see Isaiah 56:8; John 11:52). And He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father.
In today’s First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of His Church (see John 21:15-17).

Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple, that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10-13; 1 Peter 2:4-7).

Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16),and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes His body and blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.

In laying down His life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as He did—as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today’s Epistle, He calls us His children, as He called Israel His son when He led them out of Egypt and made His covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22-23; Revelation 21:7).

Today, let us listen for His voice as He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from His altar.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Third Sunday of Easter (B) - April 22, 2012

The readings today are full of Easter excitement!
• Peter is speaking to a crowd of Jewish spectators who have come to witness the man whom Peter and John had cured from paralysis. He had been begging for money, but the two apostles could not give him silver or gold, but rather a recovery of his mobility through the Holy Spirit.

• Peter begins his speech with a kind of Scripture lesson. He reminds them that the God of their religious fathers, the Patriarchs, has revealed Jesus to be the servant of the Scriptures. 

• Peter reviews how the listeners had been complicit in the handing over of this Servant to His death. 

• Peter ends with a comforting call to repentance and life offered through Jesus Whose death and resurrection was written in their very own Holy Scriptures. 

• He invites his listeners to drown themselves in the forgiveness of Christ, Who before He was born, was buried in their own prophetic writings. Remember . . . .  the Old Testament prefigures the New. The New Testament fulfills the Old.

• This Christ, the Servant of Suffering, once buried in a tomb, now is alive and giving life to all who believe.

Responsorial Psalm: 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9    Lord, let your face shine on us!
This psalm is an individual lament in which a pious Israelite calls out for deliverance and receives an answer in the form of vindication from his/her enemies. Thus vindicated, the plaintiff can lie down and sleep peacefully.

Since Christ is “the Holy and Righteous One,” this psalm can be applied to his death and resurrection. He was in distress and called upon the Lord, who raised him from the dead and vindicated him.

His work thus accomplished, he can sit down at the right hand of God.
To apply to Christ the words “I will lie down and sleep” (responsorial psalm) does not imply that he is inactive.
Jesus is our “advocate” (“paraclete,” literally “helper”) in heaven. Sin still occurs in the Christian life (when 1 John was written, the Gnostics were perfectionists who believed that proper Christians were sinless), but the exalted Christ still pleads our cause with the Father. 
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments.
This gospel represents a departure from the norm in series B, which is to follow a course of readings from Mark, supplemented by John during Lent and the Easter season. It is the counterpart of John 20:19-23, which we read last week.

The Gospel of Luke has its own Easter event. 
• Two disciples had been taking their exit-walk from Jerusalem back to Emmaus. Jesus had met them, responded to their invitation to stay with them and while eating with them was known to them in the “breaking of the bread”.  This is so important! What is the sacrament in which we know Jesus in the breaking of the bread?  The Eucharist.
• Then Jesus vanishes, but their hearts were so flooded with joy that they decided to return and reveal to the others what they had experienced.

What we hear in today’s Gospel is the rest of the story!

While the disciples are relating their being accompanied, (literally) by Jesus, the very same Jesus appears in the midst of the group and extends “peace” to all. Terrified and thinking they were seeing a ghost, the assembly has a real Easter dinner. Knowing their doubt, Jesus invites them to touch His body and then asks for something to eat. 

Luke is greatly aware that his Greek readers were skeptical about such a thing as rising from the dead. How comforting this must be to such skeptics! Jesus is offered some fish and eats it as a sign that He is truly Himself. Ghosts don’t have bodies nor do they eat.

Jesus concludes this appearance with clear evidence from the writings of Scripture. 
The law, the Prophets and the Psalms all speak of the Servant having to suffer, die and rise. Remember . . . .  the Old Testament prefigures the New. The New Testament fulfills the Old. 
This is a perfect example of that. The disciples lived this revelation. Thinking about this always reminds me of this quote: 
"If Jesus didn't rise, an even greater miracle happened: 12 relatively uneducated guys changed the world & were martyred to protect a lie."
This Good News is meant to affirm Jesus as the Messiah and that forgiveness of sins is to be preached from the top of the Jerusalem Hill to the ends of the earth. Those who have seen Jesus’ risen Body are now to become that Body by living His life and giving His life to the world. 

• Larry Gillick, S. J., of Creighton University’s Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality, writes this reflection for the Daily Reflections page on the Online Ministries web site at Creighton.
Preaching the Lectionary:
The Word of God for the Church Today

Reginald H. Fuller. The Liturgical Press. 1984 (Revised Edition)
pp. 260-262.