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Experiencing the presence of the Risen Lord

Homily  for 3rd Sunday of Easter year C 2013

feed my sheepWow! Time is really moving fast. It seems like Easter Sunday was only last Sunday, but we are now on the third Sunday of Easter. I hope that we are still in the Easter mood. I mean I hope we are taking each Sunday or each week during this Easter Season as a journey to meet and experience the risen Lord ourselves. If not then it’s never too late. The person standing beside you or behind you or in front of you is an image of the risen Lord. Look at each other in the eyes of faith and of hope and you see Christ– the risen one. We can see in each other the reason why Christ has died and has risen from the dead. Because we are worth dying for. The fact that we are here this time on this third week of Easter, when we could have done something else or have gone somewhere, attests to the fact that we are people of hope, people of faith, people who are taking Easter seriously. Thanks be to God.

Last Sunday we heard of Thomas who came to believe in the resurrection because he has seen the wounds of Jesus himself. He has experienced the real presence of the risen Lord. In our gospel today we have just heard Peter and 6 other disciples who have experienced the presence of the risen Lord again. And this is also what we are invited to see today. We who are here celebrating our faith together are called to experience the risen Lord. But in what way can we experience the presence of the risen Lord today?

Our gospel today points to us three ways in which we can experience the presence of the resurrected Christ.  

First, is by listening to Jesus and doing whatever he tells us. This calls for humility, courage and decision for our part. Peter and his fellow fishermen would have some discomfort when they heard Jesus (though they haven’t recognise him at first) telling them to cast their nets on the right. They were experienced fishermen and here someone who is not even a fisherman, but only a carpenter, telling them to do something differently, when they had just spent all night there catching nothing. But no, they didn’t protest against Jesus. Instead, they listened to his voice and acted on it and the catch was great. When they listened to Jesus they realized that their former way of life (i.e. fishing) couldn’t assure them of a life in abundance and contentment.

Listening to Jesus today is not easy though because of the many voices we hear that tend to drown his voice. There are voices that oftentimes lead us to think more for ourselves and less for others. There are voices that call us to be DOING more and BEING less. There are voices that push us to believe life is more of doing something rather than being who we are and enjoying what we’ve got. There are voices that lead us to hoard and keep rather than give and share. Thanks for the example of Peter and the other disciples. They listened to Jesus. And they did what Jesus told them to do and because of this they caught plenty. By listening to Jesus, Peter had the chance to reverse his three-fold denial of the Lord by making a three-fold profession of his love for the Lord.

So today, Jesus is challenging us as he would have challenged his disciples. We are Easter people, people of hope. So we must live out this noble identity by not going back to our former way of life in sinning and selfishness and by listening to Jesus telling us to do the right thing, to take another way, or to get out of our comfort zones.

The second way we experience the risen Lord is through this Sacred Liturgy, in this Eucharistic celebration.

When the disciples got to the shore with all their catch, Jesus was already there. Apparently he has prepared breakfast for his disciples. This is what the Eucharist is about. Every celebration of the Eucharist is not our doing. Every celebration of the Eucharist is a miracle unfolding before us. Isn’t it an amazing thing to reflect on, that  every time we attend Mass we are witnessing a great miracle. And what is this miracle? The miracle that God becomes present in all of us together, in His Word being read, and in the changing of the bread and wine into his own body and blood (Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II # 7-8). The disciples recognised the risen Lord in the breaking of the bread. Therefore, we can really experience the risen Lord in our participation in the Eucharist. Vatican II taught:

Christ is always present to his Church, especially in the actions of the liturgy. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, in the person of the minister (it is the same Christ who formerly offered himself on the cross that now offers by the ministry of priests) and most of all under the eucharistic species. He is present in the sacraments by his power, in such a way that when someone baptises, Christ himself baptises. He is present in his word, for it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Finally, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he himself promised: Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst. (SC 7)

The third way we experience the risen Lord today is through discipleship, through following Jesus Christ. Peter in our gospel today shows us a way to follow Jesus, in fact this should be the first step: to profess our love in Jesus and decide to live out this love by loving one another, by tending or by looking after the sheep of God. It is a big call, but our faith would tell us that if we just keep listening to Jesus and act on his words something great and wonderful happens. The Apostles in our First Reading today could attest that by following Jesus and proclaiming his gospel, they are given power and courage to go on proclaiming the good news to all people despite oppositions, indifference or persecutions. Because they realized they are following the real Christ, they stood on their ground no matter what awaited them. They remained firm in their principle: ‘that obedience to God comes before obedience to men.’ This is then a reminder for us. Discipleship doesn’t mean that everything would be always right or perfect or to our advantage. It doesn’t mean walking on a red carpet all the time, or sleeping in a bed of roses. Discipleship is following Jesus even to the Cross. But if we do persevere, we can be assured of the promise of a full sharing in the glory of Christ in the kingdom of his Father.

 

 

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