HOMILY & IDEAS

Acts 3: 13-15, 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas lay underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them -- Peace be with you. But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them -- Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have. And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them -- Have you anything here to eat? They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them -- These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them -- Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

HOMILY: My homily this week will focus on the word -- WITNESS. This word is found in the final sentence of the Gospel and in the middle of the first reading from Acts of the Apostles. In the Gospel one can hear an exasperated Jesus questioning why the disciples are troubled and skeptical when afterall the BIG PICTURE appears crystal clear to Him. From the beginning, Jesus was counting on His disciples to be witnesses to all that unfolded in His ministry, His passion, His death, and His resurrection.

The reaction Jesus seeks from the disciples upon his appearance is that of expectation. Instead, the incredulous reaction of the disciples tempts Jesus to say -- Which one of my three predictions of my passion, death, and resurrection did you not understand?!

Jesus expects the disciples to naturally huddle up and plan some promotional strategies; but rather, He is faced with the unexpected task of convincing them that He has indeed been raised from the dead, that it was predicted in scripture, that preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins should now be widespread, and that they are naturally the perfect witnesses to all of this.

Well, okay, maybe Jesus was shooting a little high. Nevertheless, after reading his words from Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 3, Peter seems to have a handle on this whole witness schtick. He covers all of the points highlighted by Jesus. Jesus would be proud.

Peter said to the people: The God of Abraham, (the God) of Isaac, and (the God) of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate's presence, when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away

Jesus needed witnesses. Jesus needed people to be his arms, hand, legs, feet, mouth, and instruments of his love in order to spread the Gospel.

Throughout our own lives we have been affected by witnesses of the faith -- witnesses of the Gospel. We have been nourished in numerous ways by parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, godparents, priests, CCD teachers, best friends, college professors, religious brothers and sisters, employers, roommates. We can all think of Ah-Ha moments when we learned something fundamental or mind-boggling about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, our faith, self-sacrifice, cross-carrying, holiness, and love by what someone has said -- or more importantly by what someone has done.

Who have been your witnesses?

How are we being a witnesses to Jesus? To whom in our lives are we witnesses to Jesus? Do we hear the command to be witnesses as forcefully as it was delivered to the disciples?

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