Easter Forgiveness


Believe, Repent and Proclaim

(Acts 3:13-15; 17-19; Ps 4; 1 Jn 2:1-5; Lk 24:35-48)


An elderly lady was mailing a bible and when asked by the clerk if there was anything breakable in the package, responded, “Only the10 Commandments.”

The gospel today notes interestingly that Jesus “opened the minds of the apostles to understand the scripture.” This would suggest it is not enough to read and know the scriptures; we also need to pray for understanding and try to grasp the deeper meaning of the scriptures.

That process for Scott Hahn, who was anti-Catholic, brought him to realize that nowhere in Scripture does it say “scripture alone” or even “faith alone” when one follows the corpus theory of interpreting any line of the bible within the context of the whole bible. That led him to become a Catholic.

In that spirit, a closer look at today’s readings provides us with a clear message: believe, repent and proclaim. The three words: “believe, repent and proclaim” sum up the readings for today.

We are first of all invited to deepen our faith in the resurrection of Jesus. Once again, he appears to his friends, showing them his scars that have become sacred wounds, and even eating fish to help them overcome their disbelief. And he assures them all the prophecies about him in the scriptures, from the law of Moses to the prophets and psalms, have been fulfilled. That is marvellous, objective vindication – all those prophecies have indeed been fulfilled in the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Mandy in Deliné, NWT shared with me when I was there for Holy Week her experience of Easter. Taking to heart the message she heard during the preceding Lenten mission that the Great Triduum is one great unified liturgy, she attended all the events of the Great Triduum for the first time, and there was a change, a shift in her understanding. Before, she knew about Jesus “out there” or “in church” but had never really made the connection that he was alive, real, and present to her in her life. She came to believe more deeply in him as her Risen Lord that Easter.

Next, we are to repent. The word for that in Greek is metanoia, which means “putting on a higher mind.” Meta means highest, and nous means mind. So along with the usual meaning of change or turning around, we are to put on our highest mind, change our thinking, and change our lives, try to be the best person we can be, especially by letting go of sin, receiving forgiveness, and healing of our sinfulness, that which make us sin, our painful emotions and negative attitudes.

We are so fortunate in the church to have the sacrament of reconciliation to help us to do just that. Those in the program of A.A. are also fortunate because that program is tailor made to help its members both believe and repent.

Steps 1-3 of AA involve an acknowledgement of chaos in our lives, and the belief that God can help us recover – in the church that is called contrition. Step 4 of AA is a searching and fearless moral inventory – in the church we call that an examination of conscience. Step 5 is admitting to God, ourselves and one other person the exact nature of our wrongs – in the church we call that confession and absolution. Steps 6 & 7, getting ready to have God remove our defects of character and praying for him to do so, are all about healing.

This is an area where as a church we have been very weak and negligent – praying for transformation and healing. This is a gift that the program of A.A. is bringing back to the church. Unless we heal of our sinfulness, that which makes us sin, we will most certainly fall and commit those sins all over again. We can and should invite the priest with whom we are celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation to pray for healing for us of our negative attitudes and painful emotions and addictions that make us sin in the first place. Forgiveness and healing are meant to go hand in hand.

Steps 8 & 9 of AA are all about making apologizing and amends – in the church, that is called penance. Here we should also try to make a declaration that we will try never to do that hurtful action again, because an apology without a declaration to change is almost meaningless. Likewise, saying a few prayers really does not suffice – we need to take some action in making amends, to try and make right what we have made wrong.

Steps 10 – 12 are all about a daily moral inventory, daily prayer and meditation, and sharing our experience – in the church we call that reconciliation, living a new life of peace and joy in harmony with God, others, ourselves and all of God’s creation.

Then, in the readings, we hear Jesus tell the apostles to go and proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to the whole world, starting from Jerusalem, the City of David with whom God had made the first covenant of unconditional love. In the first reading, Peter is doing just that, starting right at the gate of the Temple, a reminder that Jesus is now the new Temple of the presence of God, and that forgiveness and healing is the norm for life within his reign.

Venerable Matt Talbot

Matt Talbot is a good example of someone who lived this new way of life. An Irish drunk for many years, he finally sobered up through prayer, awareness that his drinking buddies were not real friends, and the support of his mother. He went to mass every day, changed his life completely around and made amends to anyone he had taken money or borrowed money from. He helped everyone who needed help, and in the end, became someone worthy of the cause of canonization in the church.

The Eucharist that we celebrate now is itself an experience of the Risen Lord, and his forgiveness and healing. We who participate are then commissioned to go out and proclaim this wonderful news of our God who is unconditional love. All we have to do is to repent and receive it.


Updated: April 14, 2024 — 1:43 am

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