Third Sunday of Easter
FIRST READING Acts 3:13-19
Peter said to the people:
“The God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
Third Sunday of Easter: Why Evangelize?
The doorbell rings, usually when the baby is crying, the children are fighting and something is boiling over on the stove. You get the door and there are two young persons there asking if you believe in Jesus Christ. They might be Evangelicals or Jehovah Witnesses or Mormon missionaries. You say that you are a Catholic, and they ask if they can come in to discuss the error of your ways. You tell them “No thank you,” and wish them a good day. Later on you think to yourself, “Well, I don’t go for strangers coming into my house and questioning my faith, but I do have to admire their determination.”
Where does this determination come from? It comes from the call to evangelize the world. In today’s Gospel we have Luke’s account of the first meeting of the disciples with the Risen Lord. The Gospel makes it quite clear that the Risen Jesus is not a ghost. He is real, with a human body. Then Jesus says in the Gospel, all this has taken place so that repentance and forgiveness of sins might be preached in His name.
The first reading gives us an example of the preaching of Peter. He told his listeners that they and their leaders sinned, most due to ignorance, not realizing who this Jesus was. All was not lost for them, though. They could be converted and have their sins wiped away. The disciples were not content with staying in the Upper Room and just believing in Jesus themselves. The Lord commissioned them to go out and tell others the Good News that the forgiveness of sins and eternal life were available for all. All disciples are called to become evangelists.
We should not disrespect other people’s faith. But when people want to talk about faith with us, we should speak with them, respecting their faith journey. There are many times that we are among people who brag about their sins, how they cheated someone out of money, how they cheated on their spouse or girlfriend, etc. We should say something positive about being virtuous and how each one of us is a child of God and called to become a better person. We may have to admit that we might not be the best Catholic, but that we are trying to grow in holiness, which makes the life of a Christian so full of wonderful opportunities.
Evangelization is fundamental to Christianity. Every weekend we come to Mass to receive the great gift of God’s grace in His Word and in His Sacrament. And then we are commissioned at the end of Mass to bring our Catholic Faith to others. Sometimes we are reminded of this by one of the optional endings: “Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life.”