Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

“Christ Takes Leave of His Disciples” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
Reading 1: Acts 3:11-26
Commentary on Acts 3:11-26
Following the earlier cure of the lame beggar, a crowd gathers in the temple area and Peter launches into the second kerygmatic discourse or proclamation about the nature of Christ. When Peter sees the Jews are amazed, in response to the crowd's incredulity he explains that the God anointed his "servant Jesus." In the original Greek, the word used is "pais," which is translated into Latin as "puer," which can be understood both as "slave/servant" and as "filius" - son. Peter uses the same formula: "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" from Exodus 3:6. He also uses a new title for the Savior, “The Author of Life.”
"This second address by St. Peter contains two parts: in the first (vv. 12-16) the apostle explains that the miracle has been worked in the name of Jesus and through faith in this name; in the second (vv. 17-26) he move his listeners to repentance - people who were responsible in some degree for Jesus' death.  This discourse has the same purpose as that of Pentecost - to show the power of God made manifest in Jesus Christ and to make the Jews see the seriousness of their crime and have them repent."[4]
He concludes this discourse with a call for conversion and repentance. He cites Moses’ prophecy using a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 18:15, demonstrating that the Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled in Christ. 
CCC: Acts 3:13-14 597; Acts 3:13 599; Acts 3:14 438, 601; Acts 3:15-16 2666; Acts 3:15 612, 626, 632, 635; Acts 3:17-18 591, 600; Acts 3:17 597; Acts 3:18 601; Acts 3:19-21 674
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9
R. (2ab) O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
R. Alleluia.
Commentary on Ps 8:2ab and 5,6-7, 8-9
Psalm 8 is another of the songs of thanksgiving.  In this selection we hear the title “son of man” used.  It is, in this instance, referring to all the faithful as opposed to Jesus.  The song reflects on the creation account from Genesis and how God gave man dominion over the life he had created. The humility expressed in this song has the same sense of questioning humility found in Hebrews 2:5-12. It also marvels at the fact that God made his creation subject to man.
CCC: Ps 8:2 300, 2566; Ps 8:6 2566, 2809
Gospel: Luke 24:35-48
Commentary on Lk 24:35-48
This is the first appearance of the Risen Christ to the disciples immediately following his appearance on the road to Emmaus, the account of which is referenced at the beginning of this selection. No mention is made of St. Thomas’ presence or absence as in the account from St. John (see John 20:19-31). He shows the disciples his wounds, and then to prove he is corporeal, he asks for food and eats in front of them.
As with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus “opened their minds” so they could see how the Law and Prophets were fulfilled in him. Then, satisfied that they believe, the Lord brings them to understand the prophetic significance of what had taken place. He concludes pointedly by saying: “You are witnesses to these things.” This statement is important since later in St. Luke’s narrative in the Acts of Apostles, their witness becomes the foundation of faith for others.
CCC: Lk 24:36 641, 645; Lk 24:38 644; Lk 24:39 644, 645, 645, 999; Lk 24:40 645; Lk 24:41-43 645; Lk 24:41 644; Lk 24:43 2605; Lk 24:44-48 652; Lk 24:44-46 112; Lk 24:44-45 572, 601; Lk 24:44 702, 2625, 2763; Lk 24:45 108; Lk 24:46 627; Lk 24:47-48 730; Lk 24:47 981, 1120, 1122; Lk 24:48-49 1304
The mystery of the Lord’s Supper held in the upper room is unraveled in the locked room.  Even though Jesus is quoted in St. John’s Gospel as having said “my body is true food and my blood true drink” (John 6:55), there are many who cannot accept that Jesus left us the gift of his true body and blood in the Eucharist.  If he had done that, it is argued, the bread and wine would change their outward appearance; they would taste and feel different.
So difficult was this to accept that, during the Reformation, most Protestants who had decided that they could interpret sacred scripture as well as the Church decided that the last supper was merely symbolic, and that the words of St. John were only a metaphor.  They could not bring themselves to believe that Christ would physically make himself available to all those who followed him in faith.  In essence, they put God in a box of human understanding, and would not allow the possibility of something beyond their human logic.
Jesus’ appearance in the locked room transforms our understanding of what is possible for God.  We must ask ourselves: “Did God violate the laws of physics in order for Jesus to physically stand in that room with the disciples?”  Did God somehow beam Jesus into the room like some Star Trek episode?  How did a physically solid Jesus get into a room without using a door or window?  There is really only one possibility.  The body Jesus showed to the disciples was a body transformed, it was a gloriously risen body which, while bearing the marks of his passion, was transformed into something real and substantial, not like anything physics has described.  In short, it is the essence of the Eucharist, real but unexplainable except by faith.
If we believe that Jesus walked with the disciples at Emmaus, if we believe that he came (twice) to the disciples in the locked room and to Peter on the shore, we must believe that his body is truly present in the Eucharist we share.  To deny that relationship is to deny Christ himself.

[1] The picture used is “Christ Takes Leave of His Disciples” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[4] The Navarre Bible, “Gospels and Acts”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp.738

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