Third Sunday of Easter

2019 Homilies Sunday Homilies

The famous Gospel Composer, Professor Alex Bradford, wrote the hymn, “I said I wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody. The Chorus of the song is;
I said I wasn’t gonna tell nobody, but I
Couldn’t keep it to myself!
Couldn’t keep it to myself!
Couldn’t keep it to myself!
I said I wasn’t gonna tell nobody, but I
Couldn’t keep it to myself,
What the Lord has done for me!

This pretty much sums up what we hear in the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter Season. On Easter, Ascension and Pentecost the Lord did great things for them, the Apostles and Disciples, which they could not keep to themselves. They took every opportunity to tell others about the Lord, what he did for them, and what he could do for the listeners. Even when they were dragged into the temple, before the Sanhedrin and ordered to stop speaking of Jesus, Peter responded that they couldn’t stop, and they went out and continued to preach. They couldn’t keep their experience of Jesus to themselves so they went out from Jerusalem to places such as Athens, Rome and even India, announcing the Good News of what the Lord had done for them.

What had the Lord done for them? He loved them. Jesus, human and divine, loved them. In Chapter three of John’s Gospel we are told that the Father sent his son, Jesus, into the world because, “God so loved the world.” When one sees this love, accepts this love, and experiences this love amazing things begin to happen in one’s life. The world looks different, the people in our lives look different, the good things are seen as blessings, and the not so good are accepted as crosses to be carried with hope. It was this experience of God’s love that filled the Apostles as they went forth to announce and proclaim the Gospel. It was the experience of God’s love that was with them in the joy of watching someone experience conversion, in the rejection by those who were not interested, and in the suffering and sometimes death that came from persecution because of the Gospel.

The Gospel shows us what God expects of us in return. The scene is post-resurrection and Jesus appears to the Apostles. He calls Peter aside and asks him three times; “Do you love me?” Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times on Holy Thursday night, and Jesus response was not one of rejection, but one of love. Jesus still loved Peter and wanted to hear from Peter that he accepted that love and loved him in return. This illustrates our relationship with God. Each time we sin we should imagine the Lord asking us; “do you love me?” True love is unconditional and moves us to do whatever it takes to please the other person, even to sacrifice. God’s love for us is unconditional and total. He sacrificed his son out of love for us.

This is what we celebrate during the Easter Season, the death and resurrection of Jesus, done out of love for us. The joy that comes from this love is one that has us acclaiming and singing, “Alleluia!” This is more than a joyful word we use during the Easter Season, it’s our expression of joy over what the Lord has done for us. It is a joy that is deep in our hearts and resounds within us so powerfully that we can’t keep it to ourselves. May we continue to celebrate, live, and proclaim to others; “what the Lord has done for me.”

Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.