3rd Sunday of Easter

Third Sunday of Easter

All during the Easter Season, the first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, which tells the story of the early church. Unfortunately, the lectionary breaks up the story into bits and pieces so that it can be difficult to follow what is happening. Today’s reading is a case in point.
Last week we heard how successful the apostles were in preaching the good news about Jesus. This alarmed the religious authorities. In order to silence the apostles, they had them arrested and held them in prison overnight for a court hearing in the morning. But an angel of the Lord broke into the prison and freed them. It wasn’t the only time in the Acts that the apostles were to be part of a jail break. According to the plan, the next day the court ordered the prisoners to appear, but the prisoners could not be found. Then a few minutes later the court was told the prisoners were once again in the Temple courtyard preaching up a storm. So the court sent the police to apprehend them. That’s where today’s reading picks up.
But the reading unfortunately skips reporting on the court’s deliberations. One of the Sadducees objects to overly hasty legal action. Let’s see what happens before we pass judgment, he advises. So the court orders the apostles to be flogged, which was a very brutal punishment and then releases them with the warning that they cease and desist preaching anymore about Jesus. Well, what do you think the apostles are going to do with that court order?
Our second reading continues our Easter reflections on the Book of Revelation. A central theme of this book is worship. Today’s reading pictures all the angels of heaven and all the creatures of the earth praising the Lamb of God, which of course is an image of Jesus as the crucified and risen Lord. This reading should remind us how at Mass, at communion time, we hold up the eucharist and proclaim: This is the Lamb of God.
The gospel recounts another appearance of the risen Lord to the disciples and can serve as a beautiful summary of the entire gospel.
—Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

An Introduction to the Gospel of Luke

by Walter Modrys SJ

An Introduction
Lecture 1 – A Brief History of Catholic Teaching on the Bible
Lecture 2 – How Catholics Approach the Bible Today by Walter Modrys SJ
Lecture 3 – An Outline of the Gospel of Luke by Walter Modrys SJ
Lecture 4 – A Closer Look at the Gospel of Luke, Part 1 by Walter Modrys SJ
Lecture 5 – A Closer Look at the Gospel of Luke, Part 2 by Walter Modrys SJ
Praying with the Gospel of Luke by Walter Modrys SJ

5th Sunday of Lent, April 3

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year C

The first reading is addressed to people who are just about to emerge from a huge catastrophe, a crushing defeat, after a long battle trying to survive. God reminds them that he is going to change the bleak past and do something new. This is the people of Israel, in exile in Babylon, on the eve of their liberation. 
In today’s gospel, a truly unfortunate woman will be saved by Jesus’ intervention. He will come to her defense, to rescue her from the common enemy that she and Jesus face together.
This is what God does in the Old Testament—He saves his people. And this is what Jesus does in his ministry in the gospels. And this is the experience that St. Paul describes so movingly in his own life in the second reading. In fact, in Paul’s estimation, knowing Jesus in this way outweighs any other possible advantage we could ever enjoy in life. So Paul, like Israel in our first reading and the woman in the gospel, needs to forget what lies behind and to strain forward to what lies ahead. 
That’s a good strategy for us, too, at the conclusion of Lent, as we look forward to our celebration of Easter.
—Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

3rd Sunday of Lent, March 20

Third Sunday of Lent, Year C

Among the most striking passages in the Bible are those that describe God calling his special messengers or servants. Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah in the Old Testament; and Mary of Nazareth and Peter and Paul in the New Testament, are all called to a special vocation in dramatic stories. But Moses speaking to God before the burning bush is one of the greatest of all such stories. And that’s what we have in today’s first reading.
These stories all fit into a relatively fixed pattern. The message comes through a voice from heaven, or a mystical vision, or an angel. The mission is described in general and exalted terms. The one who is called only reluctantly accepts the invitation to serve because of his or her own fear and inadequacies.
But here, in the call of Moses, there is an added feature, in that God discloses his special name to Moses. Doing so is a symbolic way for God, while remaining shrouded in mystery, to reveal his true self to Moses. Moses will go on to accomplish great deeds, but always Moses will come back to this initial moment, the moment when he first encountered God and learned to carry out God’s commands.
In our second reading, St Paul harks back to those days when Israel was in the desert, journeying to the promised land. Those were hard times. Paul compares the trials that his audience is experiencing in their own day with that time of testing long ago that Israel was subjected to in the desert.
Today’s gospel comes in two parts. First, Jesus recalls to mind how some people recently perished in a cruel persecution and others in a tragic mishap. These victims were not being punished for anything they had done, Jesus says. But it should bring to mind the uncertainty of life and how the end is beyond our control. When the end comes, then we will have to face the final judgment of God.
But how are we judged? How does God judge us? At this point—in the second part of today’s gospel—Jesus teaches a parable about how God’s judgment goes beyond our understanding because our heavenly Father is so prone to patience and mercy.
—Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.