We have two homilies by Father Hanly for 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B. We have a recording and transcript for each homily.
“Peace Be With You”
In his homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, Father Hanly says: “This is a wonderful passage from Luke, because Luke lets us know that Jesus seeks us out when we are troubled with doubts about ourselves, the world in which we live, our painful lives, all of these things.When we don’t know what to do, when we feel maybe that even God has abandoned us, it is Jesus who comes to us. And he just appears.”
First Reading: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
Second Reading: First John 2:1-5
Gospel: Luke 24:35-48
During the Sundays after Easter, it’s very common that the gospels are always another Resurrection story, and today we have St. Luke. This story is a little different from the others, but it depends very much on the gospel of John. The two of them found similarities in the stories.
Now you must remember that after the Resurrection of Jesus and all these things occurred, there were many, many months and even years that passed, and the best of the Resurrection stories were kept by the whole community of people and they were shared out, and what the evangelists did was they picked the ones that they felt were the ones that they wanted to emphasize.
So what you have in the Resurrection story of Luke is what Luke thinks is very important for all Christians to remember. And, because the gospel writers were key people, to this very day these are the stories that are kept and treasured and, each time, after each year, after the Easter festival, we tell these stories once again.
Luke is the only writer in the Old and New Testaments of our sacred scriptures that is a non-Jew. He himself was a gentile and he was a disciple of St. Paul. And so when we hear these stories we can actually visualize St. Paul telling these stories to his little convert for the first time, and Luke, being a wonderful writer, would write them down.
This reading begins, the one according to Luke…
Luke has only one story that talks about Jesus and his disciples. The other writers talk about various incidents of when Jesus met his disciples after the Resurrection. But for Luke this is the one and only time that Jesus speaks to all of his disciples gathered in the upper room the very day of his Resurrection. So that means that every word is quite important and every word is carefully chosen so that the people would know that the Lord has risen and the world has changed.
And this is the way he begins:
“While they were still speaking about this…” The two disciples on the road who had met Jesus, had spoken with him and didn’t recognize him until he broke the bread in front of them. And, of course, that reminded them of the Eucharistic sacrifice that had already become a custom at the time this story was told among all Christians.
“While they were still speaking about this, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”
You must remember, they were up in the upper room with the doors locked out of fear that those who arrested Jesus and ultimately crucified him would now hunt them down as well.
They were people who had a memory of a great hope and the hope was dashed on Good Friday when Jesus, their Lord and their Messiah, was ruthlessly nailed to a cross and crucified. And they knew that he had been buried in a grave.
And so, for them, there was no future left for all their hopes, for that the Messiah would create a new way of living, a new world, and the old would be placed as a secondary kind of history, because what mattered is that God had come and his son had changed the world.
But how were they to feel when they saw him so ruthlessly murdered on a tree?
And so they were full of despondency and they were full of guilt.
And the reason they were full of guilt was they all ran away except for his mother and John and Mary Magdalene and a few women. And they had not seen him. And they wondered what they would do if they went out to look for him and find him because the rumour was about from the two disciples that he was still alive.
This is a wonderful passage from Luke because Luke lets us know that Jesus seeks us out when we are troubled with doubts about ourselves, the world in which we live, our painful lives, all of these things. When we don’t know what to do, when we feel maybe that even God has abandoned us, it is Jesus who comes to us. And he just appears.
He appears in their midst and the first words he says are: “Peace. Peace be with you.”
What kind of peace?
Not man’s peace. Our peace is just a cessation of wars while we get ready for the next one. We get tired of destroying each other and wait for a few years and then all begins again.
The peace that Jesus speaks of is the shalom, the great shalom from the book of Genesis, when God created the world and had he finished the world, he created it and rested on that final day. And that was the Shalom of God that, ever since, all men and women seek for in the depths of their heart, a harmony between God and man, a harmony that is so deep that there is an end to war, there is only caring and mutual forgiving, sharing, and a new world that God really intended gradually comes into being.
And so when Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you,” he doesn’t mean just that peace be in your hearts which are now aching for peace, but you are to go through the whole world and understand that the peace of God is the peace that we must bring to all the nations, not just the small tribe of Hebrews who struggled all those centuries to keep the hope of shalom alive.
Now Jesus tells his disciples, not only do I give you this peace, but you are to bring it to all people.
And what is this peace?
Well, we think this peace is sort of an organized effort to control ourselves a little bit. Or it’s a kind of a thing. It’s a kind of a quality of life. It’s a kind of something intangible, but it can be built as long as we all cooperate with God.
Well, this is not what it is at all.
His peace is himself. His peace is a person. His peace is God.
It’s not a thing to be organized or dragging people to get together and say, “Well now let’s have the peace of God.”
It means Jesus says, “You thought I was dead, but my father has raised me from the dead that you might know that I will never leave you. I will be with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. Open your hearts and let me come in. And when I am with you, and when you turn to me in your troubles…”
That’s why he says, “Why are you troubled? I am here.” Even so much that he says, “I am not a ghost.” A ghost is an airy, fairy thing that floats around in men’s imaginations.
And Jesus died and rose again, and is now with you, all days, even to the consummation of the world.
Now, many began to doubt and feel “What can this mean? How can this be?”
And he sits down and he explains it to them.
And because they’ve just finished a meal, he asks for something to eat and they give him a piece of baked fish and he eats it.
And then, of course, the memory of who they were. They were those who loved Jesus, who left everything to follow Jesus, who walked with him, sat in the evenings and listened to him, who saw him rejected, who saw him and the people who he met fall in love with him because of his gentle, forgiving kindness, his compassion. And they knew that this was a man who was more than a man because the acts that he did came from the heart of God himself.
And so when he took the little bit of meal that they offered, they remembered the Last Supper, where he told them that they must learn to love, and if they learn to love as he loves, and to give as he gives, and to lay their lives down as he laid his life down, then they would experience the reality of God in their lives. Then they would have something to give when they went out into the world, because they’d say, “The great gift that we bear is sharing the life of Jesus, the Son of God.”
And so it was that they became extremely joyful and happy. And Jesus continued to teach them and he taught them great lessons.
And one of the great lessons was that pain is not your enemy. Pain is something that, with me beside you, we can endure together, and it will shape you into what you in your very hearts want to become: people who face up to the difficulties of life, who are armed in order to turn those difficulties into great value. To accept things, to overcome things, to drive back the evil selfishness that seems to rule the world, and make way, through your difficulties and pain and struggle, to make way for the great peace of God to enter into.
The trouble with the world today is not that it’s bad or not that it’s good. The trouble with the world today is it’s so cluttered. It’s so cluttered that people have forgotten how simple life is and this is what Jesus has come to teach us.
Do you want to know what life is?
Love one another. Care for each other. Sacrifice for each other. And then you will know that God is with you and will carry you forth, and you need to be afraid of nothing, not even death. For there is no death in God, there’s a transition from life to life.
And this is the message that he gives, and Luke gives, because Luke is someone whose whole life finally found in the Hebrew people the beginning of a responsible answer to all the questions and the pain of his own hungers and heartfelt feelings. And he found them in the Jewish people, and, through them, he found them in Jesus. And now he is telling us all today what it means to be a Christian.
Jesus 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, all the hopes of the people down through the centuries who bore the presence of the God, my father, with them. These now are fulfilled.”
And he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “It is written that the Messiah must 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. And you, my brothers and sisters, you are the emissaries. You are the ones who, in your lives, bear witness to these great realities.”
And the great reality is there is only love, only peace, only grace, and these are the things that you have been gifted with. Not for yourselves, but to share them with each other.
Forgive Each Other
In his homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, Father Hanly tells us the only thing that we must do is forgive each other — which is the hardest thing in the world.
First Reading: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
Second Reading: First John 2:1-5
Gospel: Luke 24:35-48
This is the Third Sunday of Easter, quite different from the Sundays that led up to, during Lent and right up to his Passion and his death, and now we have Jesus risen from the dead and we get the first impression of the disciples.
Where is God?
That’s the first question that arises: Where is God?
There’s an old rabbinical story where the Rabbi says to the young people, he says to these children, he says “My dear children, where is God? Where is God?”
And like we all used to do when we were studying our Scripture, we would say, “God is everywhere. God is everywhere.”
And the Rabbi would say to them, “No, He’s not.”
And they’d say, “But Rabbi, we know God is everywhere. God is everywhere.”
And then the Rabbi would look at them and he’d say, “Remember this, children, God is only where He is allowed to be.”
Great answer. Because, yes, God is everywhere, but unless He is loved and cared for and part of our lives, that we have basically a relationship, God is nowhere.
This might strike us as being a little harsh, but it’s not. Because when God became man, He came not as something out of the sky. He became man so that He might be related to us, not only in love and in caring, but in body and in soul and in his whole life.
And so it is that when we sit here in this church today, we do not worship an unknown quantity that is some place up in the sky. We have been chosen and we are one with Jesus, one with the Resurrected Lord, and we, too, share in the many difficulties that the original apostles had when he suddenly appeared.
According to St Luke…
You know, St Luke is the only non-Jew in all the Scriptures, the only one who ever wrote a line in all the Scriptures that was not of the Jewish people. St Luke was St Paul’s apostle and St Luke gave us perhaps the most beautiful book in the New Testament.
So now St Luke writes to us today and he gives us exactly the feeling of what it was like on that first day after the Resurrection.
The first thing he says to us is that the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus, as you know, a stranger came to them and walked with them.
And it was Jesus, the Risen Lord, but they didn’t understand.
And they talked about this and they talked about his death, and they talked about some people saying he rose from the dead. And, finally, they looked at him and he said to them, “Well, what happened in Jerusalem?”
And they said to him, “Are you the only one in all of Jerusalem that doesn’t know that we had a Messiah, we thought he was a Messiah, and he was taken out and he was crucified?”
And then, of course, the stranger spoke of the Scriptures. And he led them into the Scriptures that they might learn from the Scriptures that this is the way it had to be. The Messiah had to suffer, had to die in order to be raised (inaudible) by his Father and to bring eternal peace and joy to all peoples.
And, of course, how would they recognise him?
Not from what he was talking about.
They recognised him when they stopped in at the inn and they invited him to a meal and he took the bread and broke it and gave it to them. He didn’t have to say, “This is my body.”
The moment that that happened, he disappeared.
And the two rushed back to Jerusalem and rushed back and said to the disciples, “We have been visited by God Himself. Jesus has risen from the dead.”
In today’s Gospel, Luke begins to talk about the first impression of the followers of Jesus when the two disciples ran back to the room where they were all hiding out for fear that they, too, would be crucified, as their Lord and Master Jesus was.
And when they heard the two men speaking, that they had seen the Lord, they didn’t know what to do. They had heard it, yes, but it was only a saying.
Did they believe it?
They didn’t know what to believe.
And then suddenly he was there. Jesus was in the midst of them.
And the first thing he said to them was, “Peace.”
Now peace is something we constantly say to each other. We say peace, and go in peace, and this peace and that peace. And what we mean is what the condition that the heart will become full of peaceful.
But this is not what Jesus…
What Jesus says, “Peace is with you.” He means that God Himself, God Himself has come. And it is God, the presence of God Himself, is the peace that he speaks of.
And, of course, then they are shocked into an understanding that the whole world has changed.
The presence of Jesus is very hard for them to accept. Because they saw him nailed to a cross, beaten and in terrible condition. And they saw him buried in the ground, in the grave. And they saw all this and they couldn’t understand.
They just were troubled, terribly troubled.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
“Haven’t you read the Old Testament? Haven’t you read the Scriptures? In the Scriptures, it said the Messiah must suffer, the Messiah must die, the Messiah will rise again.”
And then they began to believe that perhaps everything that they had felt had died actually came back to life again.
So they became full of joy but also full of confusion. And they were amazed at what was happening to them.
And then Jesus was trying to convince them that he is the same Jesus. He’s not a ghost. He’s not an apparition. He’s not something that fell from the sky. He is the Jesus who walked with them, who talked with them, who lived with them, who suffered with them, who laughed with them. He was the same, the exact same Jesus.
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.
almost to say, “Do you think ghosts come for dinner or ghosts share in these sort of things? Indeed, it is me and I am now with you.”
“Peace,” he says again. “Peace be with you. I am with you. God is with you, never to leave you, never to desert you, always to be with you. And all you have to do is have faith.”
And that is what takes place.
“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 Christ 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,”
And this is the final part of this marvellous day.
He was telling them that now they, in turn, have an obligation, not to sit up saying their prayers in the upper room, frightened, afraid that they will not be accepted, they must go out to the whole world.
And what are they to bring to the whole world – a sign of victory, a sign of wonder, all of these things?
No, the one thing they are told, “You must go out and tell the people all is forgiven.”
All is forgiven. All is forgiven; nothing is held back. No nation, no people, no one who feels that they have walked a crooked way and a disastrous turn of events has turned them into something else, they are to stop and hear the words of God Himself: “All is forgiven.”
And so it is that we who are gathered here today have only one obligation. Only one obligation.
We’re not to do wonders, we’re not to convince people, we’re not to give wonderful sermons and make sure that they all follow us in this wonderful kind of new world. It’s not that at all.
The only thing that we must do is forgive each other, which is the hardest thing in the world.
We must forgive each other. Because if you do not forgive, you will never feel the presence of the real Lord. You will feel something that you wish was happening or something that you think might be possible, but it’s only when you forgive with the forgiveness of God, you recreate a sad and sorrowful world.
And it is a world full of sorrow and sadness. It is a world full of fears. We must discover for ourselves that Jesus is not afraid to lead us through fearful situations. He is not afraid to face his own sorrows and pain that we, too, might be able to overcome the sorrows in our own life.
Oscar Wilde has this wonderful saying. You all know Oscar Wilde, the great poet, the great playwright. And he was put in jail for a number of years. And when he was released said he knew what it meant to be filled with sorrow. But he went to the man of sorrow. It was Jesus.
When he came to see his disciples, he didn’t show them victory signs, he showed them the nail prints in his hands and the torn side from the sword and the nail prints in his feet. And he had become the man of sorrow, one who knows the pain and agony.
And this is what Oscar Wilde said: “Of course, how else but through a broken heart can Christ Jesus enter in?”
How else but through a broken heart can Jesus Christ enter into our lives, because indeed the whole notion of Salvation is: through sorrow and pain, we reach God’s love. And we reach it because God Himself took all our sorrows into Himself and placed them in the hands of His Son who died for them on the cross.
And so today we celebrate something more than a victory: we celebrate the revelation of God as the man of sorrows who has come to wipe away every tear, when we give him only one thing. And that is compassion for our brothers and sisters, and healing for the pain and sorrow in the world.
And when we walk this walk, then we know that indeed we are worthy to be called followers of Christ, Christians in a world that awaits the healing and saving of everyone.
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Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B
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If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2020), please contact us for permission.
Father Hanly's sermon for 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, "Peace Be With You" was delivered on 26th April 2009. Father Hanly's sermon for 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, "Forgive Each Other" was delivered on 22nd April 2012. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.
We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.