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Reflection – Third Sunday of Easter Apr 12, 2024

Third Sunday of Easter
Third Sunday of Easter

If we look back over our lives most of us can find something or other that we very much regret. We might remember speaking or acting in ways that hurt or damaged others. We might be aware of not doing something that we could have done, and that in our heart of hearts, wanted to do. Sometimes these experiences of personal failure can leave us very burdened. We can find it hard to move on from them; they trouble us, and we struggle to be free of them. They can weigh heavily on us and drain us of energy. We can find ourselves going back in memory to these moments and we just can’t let them go.

The first disciples of Jesus must have felt like this in the aftermath of Jesus’ passion and death. During the days of Jesus’ final journey, they had all deserted him. Their mood in the aftermath of Good Friday can only have been one of deep regret. They must have felt that their relationship with Jesus was over. According to today’s gospel story, however, the first words the risen Jesus spoke to his disciples were, ‘Peace be with you’. These words assured the disciples of the Lord’s forgiveness. For those first disciples, the initial experience of the risen Lord took the form of a profound experience of forgiveness. This was the risen Lord’s gift to them.

The gift of forgiveness can be difficult to receive at times. We wonder if we are really forgiven. According to the gospel, when Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you’, they responded with alarm and fright. The risen Jesus then questioned them, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts?’ It took the disciples a while to realise that they were truly forgiven (We are not alone!).

The first disciples, having received the gift of forgiveness, were sent by the Risen Lord to spread that forgiveness to others. In a similar way, we who receive the same gift are sent out on the same mission. As forgiven sinners, we are asked to proclaim with our lives the presence of a forgiving and faithful God. Let us pray for the strength and courage to accept this great gift of Easter and to live our lives as loved and redeemed children of God.

Father Joe O’Keefe, SJ

 

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