Third Sunday of Easter

We have the great joy of more than six weeks of Easter which allows us to bask in the glory of the resurrection of Christ. It is a time in which we must take the mystery of the resurrection deep into our lives. It must touch every part, how we think, speak, interact with others, enter into relationships, engage with the world and most importantly, show us how to evangelise. It is an experience that must change, transform and mould us. I think once again of Saint Peter who we meet in the first reading today. Previously in the gospels, he had been a man of mistakes and cowardice but now we meet his fearlessness, courage and wisdom in the way that he speaks to people who are supposedly of great intellect and learning. He calls people to conversion and he works miracles in the name of Christ. Think and meditate upon how this transformation and change happens and what lessons there are for us. What happens to Peter must also happen to the disciples and to Christians today.

Put very simply, what they all experience in the Scriptures is a deep intimacy with the Lord. In the gospel today that happens in a physical way, for the risen Christ comes and stands among them, he shows them his body and his glorious wounds. Indeed he eats the grilled fish with them. In this, we hear that they are dumbfounded and filled with joy. The doubts and fears have gone. At a deeper level, they have entered into a journey of great humility in which two things have happened. First, they have experienced the deep, unconditional and infinite love of God for them. Second, they come to know also that God desires to forgive their sins and welcome them into a life-giving relationship with Him.

Go back to that seminal moments in Holy Week at the washing of the feet during the Last Supper. Jesus had Humbled himself by stripping his clothes, getting down on his knees and washing their feet. It was when he came to Saint Peter who refused to have his feet washed that Jesus tells him “unless I wash your feet you can have no part in me”. Our pride, guilt and shame like Peter, will not allow the washing of our feet which literally means the taking away of our sin. As you meditate upon the feet of the disciples we immediately think of the dirt that they will have picked up but at a deeper level Jesus is taking away their sin. It is because of this that they can become part of him and everything about this extraordinary act of humility is hated by the evil one. Our sin blinds us to the love of God and this is the deception of Satan. We happily justify our actions, wallow in our pride and let fear get the better of us so that love cannot breakthrough. Think of these times when fear has become so much part of the narrative of daily lives and so the love of God is not preached. If we wish to make it more simple, it is that we refuse to be intimate with Christ. He wants to seep deep into our memories, pain, prejudices and sense of false identity. It is only when we meet Christ in love and forgiveness do we become truly human and know ourselves.

The disciples after the gospel today are sent out to preach the forgiveness of sins so as to bring people into union with Christ. Likewise in the second reading, John exhorts his listeners to stop sinning. The nature of sin is pernicious, hidden and destructive and it often happens in a contrary way that it tells us that my sin is not serious or that we are innocent of our destructive actions. If we cannot believe that we have sinned then we cannot experience the love of God and so be humble before Christ as he is humble before us.

Sin blinds, disfigures and imprisons. This does not mean to say that we should obsess about sin but rather obsess about the humility of God, his desire to wash our feet and his unconditional love. It is in this that we remove the agitation and doubts of our hearts. In this journey of engaging and embracing the resurrection, we can with the disciples say that our “Joy is so great we cannot believe it”.