Homily for April 19, 2015: 3rd Sunday of Easter: Deacon Steve Whiteman

Third Sunday of Easter

April 19, 2015

Reading 1 Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Responsorial Psalm Ps 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9

R. Lord, let your face shine on us.

Reading 2 1 Jn 2:1-5a

Gospel Lk 24:35-48

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Getting to know Jesus

The readings this weekend are unique because they give us two specific examples for getting to know Jesus.

The example from the Gospel of Luke is full of meaning for us as Catholics: after His Resurrection, Jesus was made known to His disciples in the breaking of the Bread. This reference to the Eucharist still has significant meaning for us today. As we attend Mass and receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion, we grow closer to Him as a friend and brother.

Spending time in prayer with the Blessed Sacrament is another great way to get to know Jesus better. Like with any friend, the more we spend time with them, the better relationship we make with them. That relationship will help us in good times and bad and help us to rely less on ourselves and rely more on God in our lives.

Our second reading is from Saint John the apostle. Since he is usually described as the disciple whom Jesus loved his advice for getting to know Jesus is something we should take to heart. He tells us the way to get to know Jesus is by keeping his commandments. He’s clear that we need to do more than simply acknowledge that we know Jesus. Our actions speak louder than words, especially when we try to be good Christian examples for others. Keeping God’s commandments is more than following the 10 rules that God gave Moses. We need to follow the example that Jesus gave us during His time on earth with us. His example of prayer and instruction to love your enemies and to serve others are out of place in our society just as they were 2000 years ago but still very relevant. By imitating Christ in our daily lives, we bring Christ to each other. Just as Christ relieved the suffering of the many He cured, we can be the face of Christ to others when they are suffering.

Just as Christ offered up His suffering for the redemption of the world, we can also offer up our sufferings for the sake of others. We are all one body in Christ and when we offer up our suffering in union with His, we build up the Body of Christ and we all benefit.

When we get to know Jesus better in the Eucharist and by keeping His commandments, we need to be aware of the things in our life that can prevent this from happening. Jesus will seem more distant in our lives if we don’t do these things or do them without faith. That distance is not because God moved away from us, but because we have turned away from God. Sin is a barrier in our lives that separates us from God…not because God loves us less, but because He is Holy. The analogy I use to think about this is one I got from playing with those little round magnets as a kid. Opposite sides of the magnets attract. If you turn one of the magnets around, they repel each other. When we continue to sin without trying to reform, it’s like turning our back on God and flipping the magnet over. The sin in our lives keeps us away from God even though He keeps trying to pull us back in. By turning our magnet and our lives back toward God in Reconciliation, the graces of the Sacrament will restore the natural attraction and we can get to know Him like never before.

The challenge I have in my own life is to recognize when I’m turning away from God and following the wrong path. When I have really messed up it’s easier to see where I went wrong and that I need to see a priest for Reconciliation.

The situation that is potentially more dangerous is when we try to go through life without recognizing the need for God’s help each day.

It’s tempting to think we have things under control and not realize we need to cooperate with the plan that God has for us. It’s hard to get to know Him better if we keep Him at a distance and don’t ask for His help in our lives.

When our kids were growing up, I remember they went thru a phase of independence as toddlers. They were just getting control of their bodies and learning to talk. I remember one of the kids was especially determined and tried to do everything by themselves. In a loud firm voice they would say: I do self, I do self.

It was clear they didn’t want any help and they were not going to give up. As a parent you recognize this as a natural learning process. It’s not easy to watch but you know that kids will learn from their struggles. Only recently have I realized that it’s too easy to take on this same role of the toddler with God and think I can do everything without His help. There is no doubt that we can learn from our struggles as an adult. The situation that keeps us away from God is when we don’t ask for His help. We need to trust that His plan for us will bring us through the rough times in our lives and into His loving embrace.

We should use our faith journey to get to know Jesus better by following His example and through the Sacraments. When we get to know Jesus better in this life our faith journey can bring us to our eternal home.