Spiritual readings for Sunday 15th of April
09 April 2018 CGI news
Week of 9th April 2018 (reference: readings for Sunday 15th April)
Third Sunday of Easter - Readings: Acts 3,13-15.17 -19; 1 Jn 2,1-5ª; Lk 24,35-48
"Repent you, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."
The two key words for today's readings are CONVERSION and UNDERSTANDING.
It is amazing to see the transformation of Peter and of de disciples of Emmaus, when they believed that Jesus had risen.
Peter doubted many times, but whenever he perceived that He was the Master, he literally threw himself in front of Him, without fear of the risk of his choice, and offered Him all his being, his life and his hope. One of the most beautiful moments in Peter's relationship with Jesus was in His third appearance to the disciples after the resurrection in the Sea of Tiberias (Jn 21, 1-8). Jesus tells them to cast the net on the other side of the boat (to open their minds and convert) and when John recognizes Jesus ("He is the Lord!"), Peter simply "jumped into the sea".
Many times, I wonder why Peter denied Jesus three times during his condemnation and scourging. In addition to fulfilling the Scriptures, this denial shows that Peter had the experience of doubt. But he also had the experience of forgiveness and of understanding the Master. Pope Francis once said, "We only have the ability to forgive when we have the experience of having been forgiven" (1). St. Vincent also taught us that our faith must be based on the experience of God and this should be experienced with the Poor: the experience definitely transforms our hearts. Many saints had the grace of the "dark night" of doubt, precisely because they had a deep faith in Christ. Doubt - contrary to faith - is, therefore, an inherently human weakness.
When we read the first reading, we can understand a little of the importance of this experience. Before the manifestation of Jesus resurrected and the sending of the Holy Spirit, Peter was in doubt, disappointed by the death of Jesus, believing that it was all over. In the reading, Peter shows two very important feelings: conversion and mercy. He accused people of the death of Jesus and shows with force that he had converted, begging them to convert as well: "You denied the Saint and the Righteous and you asked for the release of a murderer; you kill the author of life, but God raised him from the dead, and we are witnesses of this."
Immediately, Peter expresses his pity for the people, he said that he understands the doubts that they feel: "I know that you acted in ignorance, (...)" therefore, repent and convert, so that your sins are forgiven." His experience made him penetrate into the hearts of the people and understand their distress, which he had also felt. His experience also allowed him to talk knowingly about the beauty of conversion.
The disciples at Emmaus also doubted, even after Jesus showed them patiently in many ways that He was the Messiah, the Risen Christ. The most beautiful form of this is when Jesus makes them recognize him in the simple act of "breaking the bread".
We Vincentians deny Jesus as well, “acting out of ignorance" or consciously, although He, patiently shows us so many times that he walks with us. Perhaps this doubt, this human weakness, lets us understand better our assisted, penetrate in their hearts, and so, patiently, fight with them for their dignity as children of God.
At the same time, like Vincent, the experience of intimacy with the Poor transforms us and converts us always, making us understand others and ourselves. We are more able to listen to the repentance of our brothers and sincerely forgive them. We also become more human to understand our weaknesses and forgive us, moving on, changing the lifestyle and "casting the net on the other side of the boat".
Our experience enables us to show the Poor the Holy Spirit that is within us. We do not need to show our wounds to the poor, as Jesus had to do with his disciples, so they believed. It is enough to manifest our Vincentian vocation "in the breaking of bread": with that, the Poor recognizes us as disciples of the Risen Lord.
(1) “Pope Francis. Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio” – Sergio Rubín and Francesca Ambrogetti – Publications B Argentina, 2013