The Three Gifts of the Risen Lord
In this beautiful homily for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year C, Father Hanly talks about the three gifts of the Risen Lord.
Readings for Second Sunday of Easter, Year C
- First Reading: Acts 5:12-16
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
- Second Reading: Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19
- Gospel: John 20:19-31
The gospel reading of today’s Mass is from St. John’s description of the day when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples in the upper room.
He describes it as being the First Day of the week, and more, not only the First Day of the week, but also the beginning of a whole new world.
For on this day, Jesus, Our Lord and Savior, rose from the dead and the whole world was indeed changed, and this is because Jesus has promised to remain with us as our brother, our companion and our guide along the way.
Matthew tells us that Jesus has promised “I will be with you all days, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20) The weary old world would never be the same again.
The Lord Jesus has given us three Easter gifts on that evening of the first day.
His first gift is the gift of Peace … “Peace be with you, my peace I give you.” In Hebrew “Shalom.”
“Shalom,” however, indicates more than just Peace, it means “God is with us.” Jesus invites us into “God’s presence,” and even more intimate to be in “communion with God.”
The gift of peace is, of course, the gift of Jesus … not a thing to be cherished but rather a person to be worshipped and loved … Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah and the Holy One of God, who gives himself to you and to me, here and now and for all eternity.
This is our Resurrected Lord Jesus, “the Word of God made flesh and who dwells amongst us,” who is our Father’s gift of love to His children, you and I, who now are rightfully called “the children of God.”
After the gift of his Peace, the second gift of the Risen Lord is, of course, his love.
Jesus shows his disciples his hands and his side; he invites them to touch and feel the wounds from which he poured out his life’s blood.
He does this that we might know and understand how truly great is his love for us and how we must now share this love with each other in this way.
At the Last Supper, he takes the bread and wine, offered to the Father, saying “Take and eat, take and drink, for this is my body offered up and my blood poured out for you.”
It is his and our communion and also a reminder of our oneness as his friend and willingness to share in the terrible price Jesus will pay for the world’s redemption.
And so it is that Jesus offers his life as a living sacrifice, freely given for the healing and salvation of the whole world.
He himself has said it: “Love one another as I have loved you. In this way all men and women will know that you are my disciples.”
Yes, he is our teacher and our guide through life, but first and foremost he teaches us how to live and to love.
Sometimes we misunderstand this gift. We think we must be perfect people, which we are not.
Jesus is not telling us that we must love one another; he is telling us that we must learn how to love one another.
And in the learning to expect that we, too, at times will fail.
And if and when that happens, take heart from the words of Mother Teresa to her Sisters. “There is only one failure in life and that is when you fall down, you stay down and refuse to get up again and continue your journey.”
But to love the way Jesus loves with his whole heart and soul is to discover with Jesus the joy of life itself.
The third and final gift that Jesus gives on this most sweet day is the gift of God’s forgiveness.
All is forgiven from a God who loves us, a God who wants only our joy and happiness, who aches for us, and weeps for us in times of sorrow that we might not weep alone.
And should we turn our backs and walk away from Him, He follows even closer so that He might catch us in our fall from grace and set our feet along the right path once again.
Love is the price demanded by His Son who hangs upon a cross, who gives his life out of love for us all, and looks up to his grieving Father from the hill top of Calvary and says those unforgettable words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”