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3rd Sunday of Easter, Apr.

22, 2012 (Acts of the Apostles 3:13-15,17-19; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48) In the Acts reading Peter makes the ancestral God (the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers) responsible for glorifying his servant Jesus. Peter blames all the people, who had gathered around after he had healed a cripple in the name of Jesus (Acts3:1-9), for handing Jesus over to Pilate and for denying him before Pilate. Youasked that a murderer be released to you (Lk. 23:13-20) refers to the Barabbas incident. Peter calls them brothers while blaming them for denying the Holy and Righteous One. Peter then acknowledges that they had acted out of ignorance along with their leaders. The author of life you put to death. He concludes by urging them to repent and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away. Peter says that these residents of Jerusalem and their leaders acted out of ignorance, but ignorance notwithstanding, God allowed his Christ to suffer, as the prophets beforehand had announced. Their ignorance then, ought to lead to repentance and forgiveness now. Their ignorance was of his messianic identity as well as of his divine origins and nature. Only Luke offers such an explanation as when Jesus prays from the cross: Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing (Lk.23:34). There he could have meant the Roman soldiers who were executing him, or the chief priests, the others. In Acts 13:27, Paul says the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him, but those also are Lukes words as the author of Acts. So generally the attribution of ignorance on the part of the Jews is a theme of Luke. The rest of the New Testament is not so kind on the issue of Jewish guilt in the death of Jesus. It is especially brutal and widespread in the writings attributed to John, which Christian readers need to be aware of when reading these parts of the New Testament. By the time the New Testament was written, its writers were no longer interested in ecumenical sensitivity. But for the sake of Christ, we need to be. Peter first reaches out to the Jews of Jerusalem (He calls them Fellow Israelites at the beginning of the speech in 3:12) to offer them the chance to repent and be converted. Repentance and conversion that lead to the forgiveness of sins are the appropriate responses to discovery of the risen Christ in every age. In the Gospel Jesus greeted the assembled disciples in peace. Many of them were hesitant to believe it was Jesus, who offered his hands and feet as proof that it is he. His desire to eat was one more proof, because he always enjoyed eating somebody elses food. But it was not until he opened their minds to understand

the Scriptures that they came to believe. Thus we pray always that Christ open our minds to understand the Scriptures. As with the Acts reading so here the discovery of Jesus as the risen Christ leads to preaching the forgiveness of sins in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. That is precisely what Peter was doing in Acts and the basis for it was this ending in Luke. If nothing else, Luke was a careful writer, balancing the Gospel and everything in it with Acts and everything in it. The words from I John remind us how starkly he writes. One cannot say I know Christ but not keep his commandments. That one is a liar. Whoever keeps the word of Jesus is sure to see the love of God perfected in him. Fr. Lawrence Hummer