We continue on in our celebration of Easter. Today we see Peter in our First Reading showing great courage when he confronts the people with their part in the death of Jesus. However, he goes on to excuse them on the grounds that they acted out of ignorance. In doing this, Peter may have been inspired by the intercessory prayer of Jesus as he hung on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” I’m sure that he also had in the back of his mind what he did in the courtyard of the high priest, when he denied his Master three times. From his own experience in receiving Jesus’s forgiveness, he urges them to repent, assuring them that if they do, the forgiveness of sins will be theirs.
In the Gospel account, the Evangelist’s primary interest is to show the risen Jesus is the same person the apostles had known prior to his death. He emphasizes the reality of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, but makes it clear that the resurrection is not a return to earthly life. Jesus has risen to a new life beyond death.
It was only by combining the passages from the prophets that the early Christians came to accept the reality that a suffering Messiah was part of God’s plan of salvation. Luke has the Risen Lord showing the apostles how the Scriptures had foretold that the Christ would suffer and so enter into his glory. Jesus also bestows on them a mission. They are to proclaim that repentance of sins leads to forgiveness of sins.
Today’s Second Reading has the Apostle John telling us that authentic love is proven by obedience to the commandments. Anticipating that those who follow Christ will sin, he reminds us that we have in Jesus an advocate who will plead our cause.
This is one of those Sundays where that is a common thread that runs through all three of our readings, that being, forgiveness is available to those who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior. This is a reminder to us that no sin is so great or so ugly, that it can’t be forgiven when the person repents and returns to the Lord. One of the best examples we have of this is the thief who hung next to Jesus on the Cross.
If you have a difficult time forgiving someone who has hurt you, or believing that you can be forgiven for what you have done, take time to gaze upon the Crucified One. In him we see the greatest act of love the world has ever known. When we understand this we cannot help but be motivated to repent of our own sins, and to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt us.
– Fr. Dennis, April 18, 2021