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3rd Sunday of Easter, Apr.

19, 2015
(Acts: 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48)
Sundays Acts reading follows an incident in which Peter enabled
a man born crippled to walk. Peters response to the crowds
amazement is now reported. Peter notes that it was the ancestral God
(the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob) who
glorified Jesus, in whose name Peter had enabled the crippled man to
walk. Peter also ascribes the death of Jesus to these same people to
whom he now speaks. The author of life you put to death.
Peter also notes that we are witnesses to that fact that God had
raised Jesus from the dead. Peter finally adds that he knows they had
acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did. Peter takes up the
general New Testament preaching (often called the kerygma) that God
had brought about what had been announced through the mouth of all
the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. He then invited his
audience to be converted, that your sins may be wiped away. Some
have argued that the notion of a suffering Christ is part of Lukes
unique contributions to the kerygma. Whether that should be
considered as separate from the general kerygma of the early Church
is debatable.
By this point (towards the end of the first century, 85-90 AD) the
release of Barabbas during the Passion narrative had become fixed in
Christian memories. This was the murderer you asked to be
released. Peter argues that they had acted out of ignorance, just as
your leaders did. This offers a kind of reprieve from full guilt for the
death of Jesus.
Nonetheless, elsewhere in Acts the blame for the death of Jesus is
placed pretty squarely on the Jews. Pilate, the Roman procurator, is
mentioned but only insofar as he had decided to release Jesus. That he
is not mentioned in connection with the crucifixion speaks volumes
about what lies behind the text. The blame is put on Peters Jewish
audience, despite the fact here that they acted out of ignorance. This is

what Acts is claiming, reflecting the general New Testament attitude

towards Jews. This attitude of blaming Jews generally for the death of
Jesus is wrong and has been condemned as such frequently and clearly
in recent years by popes and bishops alike.
We cannot say this often enough or loud enough: All Jews were
not responsible for the death of Jesus, himself a Jew. He was crucified,
according to Roman custom, by and with the authorization of Pontius
Pilate, the Roman leader who possessed that authority in Palestine.
That some Jewish leaders supported his execution is likely, although
we cannot overlook the importance of leaders like Nicodemus who
tacitly supported Jesus if Johns Gospel has any credibility, and it
The Gospel is taken from Luke, even though this is supposed to
be Marks year. A quick look at Mark shows that there isnt much
material to dwell on after the report of his resurrection is given. It is
agreed almost universally by scholars that Marks Gospel originally
ended at 16:8. Inasmuch as Mark 16:1-7 was the Gospel for the Easter
Vigil that would leave only one verse to ponder from Mark: Then
they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and
bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
That would seem to be a strange ending indeed. But one of the
first principles of textual criticism is that the harder reading is the
more likely. That leaves little room to speak about Luke. It comes after
Jesus had met two disciples on the Emmaus road. Now he meets the
whole group and proves it is himself by the wounds, by eating with
them and opening their minds to the Scriptures.
Fr. Lawrence Hummer