Sunday, 1 May 2022 : Third Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the third in the glorious and joyous season of Easter, all of us are called to remember once again, through the Sacred Scriptures, of the reason why we celebrate this season and why we rejoice so happily, all because of the great victory and triumph that Our Lord and Saviour has won for us, that by His death and resurrection, He has purchased for all of us, the freedom and liberation from the tyranny of sin and death. Through Him, all of us have received the assurance of eternal life and true joy, assured of the final victory that will come with Him, if we remain faithful and steadfast, staying true to Him to the very end.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the confrontation between the Apostles and disciples of the Lord led by St. Peter, against the Sanhedrin, the powerful High Council of the Jewish people led by the High Priest, who had arrested the Apostles and ordered them to stop preaching in the Name of the Risen Lord. At that time, the Lord had risen and ascended into Heaven, and the Holy Spirit had descended upon the Apostles, whom encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, went forth to proclaim courageously the truth about God and His salvation, in Jesus Christ, the same One Whom the Sanhedrin had arrested and accused, sent to the Romans to be crucified and killed.

The Apostles, led by St. Peter firmly and courageously refused to remain silent or to obey the order of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin, as they had been tasked and entrusted by God with the very important mission of revealing the truth and the Good News of His salvation, His great and amazing love, all that He had done for the sake of His beloved people through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who had cone into this world to gather all the lost sheep of His flock, and lead them to the reconciliation with God and hence, the assurance and certainty of eternal life. And the Apostles had been entrusted with the role as shepherds in the image of the one and true Good Shepherd, Christ Himself, to lead the people of God towards Him.

Despite the threats and warnings that the Sanhedrin gave to them, the Apostles were not afraid at all. They proclaimed courageously their Lord and Saviour, Whom they had witnessed and seen Risen from the dead with their own eyes, witnessed Him performing His miracles even before He had gone through His Passion, suffering, death and resurrection, and as we also heard from our Gospel passage today, they had also seen and witnessed the miracles that God continued to perform after He had risen from the dead. They had been called and sent forth by the Lord, and they would not betray or abandon their Lord and Master.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Gospel of St. John detailing to us what happened that day when the Lord appeared to His disciples in Galilee just not long after He had risen from the dead. He has told the women who witnessed His resurrection that He would go before His disciples to Galilee, and He would see them there later on. Before this, He Himself had also appeared to His disciples in two occasions just as we heard it in our last Sunday’s Gospel, where St. Thomas who earlier on doubted the Lord’s resurrection was dumbstruck in awe and finally believed when the Lord appeared before him and the other disciples in the flesh. He showed them that He had truly risen from the dead.

Then, as we heard today’s Gospel passage, we heard how the disciples had been out fishing in the lake for the entire night without success, before that morning when the Lord appeared to them on the shore, but without them recognising Him at first. The Lord told them to follow His instructions, and they immediately captured a large number of fishes, more than what they could manage. It was there and then that St. Peter recognised the Lord and immediately, he jumped into the water to come to the Lord. It was there and then that the disciples yet again saw the Risen Lord, His love for them and the mission which He had entrusted to them to do.

We also heard of the Lord’s exchanges with St. Peter after their meal, in which the Lord asked St. Peter, ‘Peter, do you love Me?’ To which St. Peter responded with, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.’ And the Lord then responded with, ‘Feed My lambs’. This was repeated three times in a very symbolic mirror and reversal of St. Peter’s own three times denial of the Lord at the time of His Passion. It shows that the Lord had forgiven St. Peter and not only that, but He was entrusting His Church and all of His flock, the lambs that He had called and gathered from among the nations, to St. Peter, just as He had earlier on established His Church on the firm foundation of this ‘Rock’ that is St. Peter and his faith.

St. Peter might have been illiterate, brash and impulsive at times, doing things like cutting the ears of the High Priest’s servant when the guards were about to arrest the Lord, and he might have also been fearful and shaken in faith, as how he denied knowing the Lord three times, but in the end, the Lord chose him to be the leader of His entire Church and to be the leader of the Apostles, because He knew what his faith and love for Him were like. The Lord saw deep in the people’s hearts and minds, and He saw in St. Peter, a true faith and commitment, and which strengthened and encouraged by all that he himself witnessed, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, hence, he courageously led the Apostles in resisting the efforts of the Sanhedrin to silence them.

In our second reading, we heard of the reading from the Book of Revelations of St. John, in which St. John the Apostle saw the great heavenly vision, of the Lamb of God, Christ Himself, and His Throne in Heaven, and how all the twenty-four elders assembled, the Angels and all the countless millions upon millions of the faithful of all the ages praised and worshipped Him, glorious, triumphant and victorious, seated on His Throne, having conquered evil, sin and death, and in that vision, St. John related to us how the same triumphant Lamb of God will come again in His Second Coming, to claim all of His beloved and faithful ones to Himself. He will gather all of His faithful ones and lead them towards His light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all that we have heard from the Scriptures today are what the Apostles had witnessed, experienced and received from the Lord throughout their labours and ministries among the people of God. They had seen the Risen Lord, all of His truth and wonders. The Lord was with all of them and His Church, and He would lead them to the ultimate victory, that despite all the challenges and trials that they would face, but He is with them, and He will never abandon them, and He entrusted to them the great mission to spread His love and truth to all the peoples of all the nations. Just as we heard in our Gospel today, the disciples managed to gather so many fishes upon the Lord’s arrival and them following His instructions.

All of these remind us that each and every one of us as members of the Church of God are part of the same mission which He has entrusted to His Apostles and disciples all those years ago. What is this mission, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord called His disciples to be the fishers of men, to gather all the people to Himself, all the lost sheep to be gathered once again. St. Peter was entrusted with the leadership of the Church, in ‘feeding’ the lambs of the Lord, in caring for all of them as the members of the Church, called and chosen from the world. His works and that of the other Apostles had been passed down to their successors, right to this very present day, in the bishops and priests.

But these works and ministries are not their responsibilities alone, brethren. As members of God’s Church, we also share part of the responsibility to be the witnesses and bearers of God’s truth. The Apostles and many others had witnessed this truth, and they suffered great persecutions for their faith, and yet they endured because they trusted in the Lord and they wanted all their fellow brothers and sisters to be saved in Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour. They passed this faith and truth to us so that we too may be moved and inspired to follow in their footsteps and do our part as Christians to be the Lord’s faithful disciples in our respective communities today.

This means that we are all sharers in the mission of the Church to reach out to those who have not yet known the Lord or are still living in darkness of sin, in denial of the Lord’s truth and love, and in rebellion against Him. We are all called to be courageous like the Apostles in proclaiming the truth about the Lord, His love and compassion for us, His resurrection and all that He had done for our sake as Our Lord and Saviour. We are all called to be exemplary in our actions and way of life so that by our works and deeds, our contributions and even in the smallest and simplest things we do, we may inspire others to believe in God as well.

We do not have to do great and wonderful things, brothers and sisters. As I said, even in the smallest and simplest things we do in life, we can touch the lives of others, inspire others to come to believe in God as well. It is in the ordinary things we do that God is glorified, and we must not forget that we cannot be idle and ignorant of our calling and obligations in life as part of the same Church of God. Remember brothers and sisters, that Our Lord Himself said that, unless we carry our crosses and follow Him, we cannot be His true disciples and followers. If we want to be truly Christians, then we have to commit ourselves to the Lord wholeheartedly.

Are we then willing and able to commit ourselves to God in the same way the Apostles and disciples of the Lord had done? Are we willing to spend the time and effort to follow the Lord and to do His will, in all the things we say and do? Let us do whatever we can as Christians, as Our Lord’s disciples, to proclaim Him in our communities and in whatever opportunities we have, that we may indeed be good role models and inspirations for others to follow just as we ourselves look up to the Apostles for inspiration. May Our Risen Lord be with us always, bless our works and efforts, and guide us in our journey and faith. May God be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.