The Risen Christ Illumines And Strengthens Our Faith
Readings: 1st: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19: Ps: 4: 2-9; 2nd:1 Jn 2:1-5; Gos Lk 24: 35-48
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this third Sunday of Easter, the church invites us to celebrate the living Christ, who is our advocate. Through his death and resurrection, he advocates for us. Ignorance and doubt keep us in fear and darkness, while Christ illumines and strengthens our faith.
The significant problems of the Jewish leaders who crucified Christ were ignorance. They thought they knew God and were advancing his course. On the contrary, they were working against it. Hence, they remained stubborn.
One crucial point that all the Sunday readings have in common is the relationship between ignorance and faith. Peter observed the Ignorance of the Jewish leaders. Hence, he addressed them: “It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just…Now brothers, I know that neither you nor your leaders had an idea of what you were doing.”
They were waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. However, when He came, they ignorantly rejected him. Hence, John writes: “Anyone who says I know him and does not keep his commandments is a lair refusing to admit the truth.” Ignorance of God’s command and will leaves one with a false impression that he knows the truth. It makes one think that he is fighting for God when the contrary is the case.
We should be different because “the time of ignorance is over” (Acts 17, 30-31). It is over through the risen Christ, our advocate. Therefore, we must continuously seek divine counsel and illumination from Christ, our advocate. Most importantly, we must continually repent and receive forgiveness. John assures us today that: “We have an advocate before the Father who is Just, he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away…”
In the gospel, Christ continues to strengthen his disciples’ faith by illuminating their minds with the scriptures. Even though they heard him preach and saw his miracles, they were ignorant of what the scriptures said about Him. St Jerome reminds us that: “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Ignorance of God’s word and commandments is a major stumbling block to faith. Jesus knew this, so, “He opened their minds to scriptures…you see how it was written…” Hence, Paul always prayed: “May the Lord open the eyes of your minds” (Ep1:18). Indeed, our minds need the illumination from the light and glory of the risen Christ.
Today’s gospel also reveals something fundamental. Often, we think that only Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ. Of course, according to the gospel of John 20: 19-21, (which we read last Sunday), it seemed so. However, without contradicting John, Luke takes us further by revealing that Thomas was not alone in this boat. Jesus asked his disciples: “Why are you agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts?
Of course, Jesus knew that most of his disciples doubted, even though they did not manifest it out publicly. So, he did everything humanly possible to convince them. Christ visited them, eat, and drank with them. He even allowed them to touch his wounds. How many of us attend Sunday Masses, and yet, do not believe in the Eucharist?
How many are Christians, and yet do not believe in the resurrection of the dead? How many receive the sacrament of confession and do not believe in the forgiveness of sin? How many are Christians, and yet do not believe that Jesus is true God and true man? How many Christians still believe that Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit? These are different shades of doubt. We manifest them differently. May the risen Christ illuminate our minds that we may believe in him. Alleluia.
Peace be with you!