Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

264 Thursday in the Octave of Easter

CCC Cross Reference:
Acts 3:13-14 597; Acts 3:13 599; Acts 3:14 438, 601; Acts 3:15-16 2666; Acts 3:15 612, 626, 632, 635; Acts 3:17-18 591, 600; Acts 3:17 597; Acts 3:18 601; Acts 3:19-21 674
Ps 8:2 300, 2566; Ps 8:6 2566, 2809
Lk 24:36 641, 645; Lk 24:38 644; Lk 24:39 644, 645, 645, 999; Lk 24:40 645; Lk 24:41-43 645; Lk 24:41 644; Lk 24:43 2605; Lk 24:44-48 652; Lk 24:44-46 112; Lk 24:44-45 572, 601; Lk 24:44 702, 2625, 2763; Lk 24:45 108; Lk 24:46 627; Lk 24:47-48 730; Lk 24:47 981, 1120, 1122; Lk 24:48-49 1304

Back to Deacon’s Bench '08
Back to Deacon's Bench '09
Back to Servant of the Word '10
Back to SOW II '11
Back to SOW II '12
Back to SOW II '13
Back to SOW II '14
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Reading 1
Acts 3:11-26

As the crippled man who had been cured clung to Peter and John,
all the people hurried in amazement toward them
in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.”
When Peter saw this, he addressed the people,
“You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this,
and why do you look so intently at us
as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence,
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
And by faith in his name,
this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong,
and the faith that comes through it
has given him this perfect health,
in the presence of all of you.
Now I know, brothers and sisters,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,
and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment
and send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus,
whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration
of which God spoke through the mouth
of his holy prophets from of old.
For Moses said:

A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kin;
to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you.
Everyone who does not listen to that prophet
will be cut off from the people.

“Moreover, all the prophets who spoke,
from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days.
You are the children of the prophets
and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors
when he said to Abraham,
In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you
by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (2ab) O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R. Alleluia.
O Lord, our Lord,
how glorious is your name over all the earth!
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R. Alleluia.
You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R. Alleluia.
All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel
Lk 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

Reading from the Jerusalem Bible

First reading Acts 3:11 – 26

Everyone came running towards them in great excitement, to the Portico of Solomon, as it is called, where the man was still clinging to Peter and John. When Peter saw the people he addressed them, ‘Why are you so surprised at this? Why are you staring at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or holiness? You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses; and it is the name of Jesus which, through our faith in it, has brought back the strength of this man whom you see here and who is well known to you. It is faith in that name that has restored this man to health, as you can all see.
‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and so that the Lord may send the time of comfort. Then he will send you the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus, whom heaven must keep till the universal restoration comes which God proclaimed, speaking through his holy prophets. Moses, for example, said: The Lord God will raise up a prophet like myself for you, from among your own brothers; you must listen to whatever he tells you. The man who does not listen to that prophet is to be cut off from the people. In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days.

‘You are the heirs of the prophets, the heirs of the covenant God made with our ancestors when he told Abraham: in your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed. It was for you in the first place that God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.’

Psalm: Psalm 8:2,5-9

How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

How great is your name, O Lord our God,
through all the earth!
What is man that you should keep him in mind,
mortal man that you care for him?

How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Yet you have made him little less than a god;
with glory and honour you crowned him,
gave him power over the works of your hand,
put all things under his feet.

How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

All of them, sheep and cattle,
yes, even the savage beasts,
birds of the air, and fish
that make their way through the waters.

How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Gospel Luke 24:35 – 48

They told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognized him at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled’. He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.

Readings and Commentary from the Navarre Bible

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

From: Acts 3:11-26

Peter's Address in the Temple
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[11] While he (the man lame from birth) clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's, astounded. [12] And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? [13] The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. [14] But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, [15] and killed the Author of Life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. [16] And His name, by faith in His name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

[17] "And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance as did also your rulers. [18] But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He thus fulfilled. [19] Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, [20] and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, [21] whom Heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old. [22] Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as He raised me up. You shall listen to Him in whatever He tells you. [23] And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.' [24] And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterwards, also proclaimed these days. [25] You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God gave to your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your posterity shall all the families of the earth be blessed.' [26] God having raised up His servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness."

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Commentary:

11-26. This second address by St. Peter contains two parts: in the first (verses 12-16) the Apostle explains that the miracle has been worked in the name of Jesus and through faith in His name; in the second (verses 17-26) he moves his listeners to repentance--people who were responsible in some degree for Jesus' death.

This discourse has the same purpose as that of Pentecost--to show the power of God made manifest in Jesus Christ and to make the Jews see the seriousness of their crime and have them repent. In both discourses there is reference to the Second Coming of the Lord and we can clearly see the special importance of testifying to the Resurrection of Jesus; the Apostolic College is presented as a witness to that unique event.

13. "Servant": the original Greek word ("pais") is the equivalent of the Latin "puer" (slave, servant) and "filius" (son). By using this word St. Peter must have in mind Isaiah's prophecy about the Servant of Yahweh: "Behold, My servant shall prosper, He shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. As many were astonished at Him -- His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the sons of men -- so shall He startle many nations" (52: 13-15).

Peter identifies Jesus with the Servant of Yahweh, who, because He was a man of suffering and sorrow, the Jews did not identify with the future Messiah. That Messiah, Jesus Christ, combines in His person suffering and victory.

14. St. Peter, referring to Jesus, uses terms which Jews can readily understand in a messianic sense. The expression "the Holy One of God" was already used of Jesus as referring to the Messiah in Mark 1:24 and Luke 4:34. It is reminiscent of Old Testament language.

The "Righteous One" also refers to the Messiah, whom the prophets described as a model and achiever of righteousness (cf. Acts 7:52). "Holy", "righteous" and "just" all have similar meaning.

15. When St. Peter reminds his listeners about their choice of a murderer (Barabbas) in place of Jesus, the Author of Life, we might usefully consider that he was referring not only to physical life, but also to spiritual life, the life of grace. Every time a person sins -- sin means the death of the soul -- this same choice is being made again. "It was He who created man in the beginning, and He left him in the power of his own inclination. If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish. Before a man are life and death, and which he chooses will be given to him" (Sirach 15:14-18).

16. The original text, structured in a very Jewish way, is difficult to understand. One reason for this is the use of the word "name" instead of simply identifying who the person is. In this passage "name" means the same as "Jesus". Thus the verse can be interpreted in this way: through faith in Jesus, the man lame from birth, whom they know and have seen, has been cured; it is Jesus Himself who has worked this complete and instantaneous cure.

17-18. The Jewish people acted in ignorance, St. Peter says. Indeed, when He was on the cross Jesus had prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). The people did not know that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. They let themselves be influenced by their priests. These, who were familiar with the Scriptures, should have recognized Him.

God's pardon is offered to one and all. St. Peter "tells them that Christ's death was a consequence of God's will and decree. [...] You can see how incomprehensible and profound God's design is. It was not just one but all the prophets who foretold this mystery. Yet although the Jews had been, without knowing it, he cause of Jesus' death, that death had been determined by the wisdom and will of God, who used the malice of the Jews to fulfill His designs. The Apostle does not say, "Although the prophets foretold this death and you acted out of ignorance, do not think you are entirely free from blame"; Peter speaks to them gently: 'Repent and turn again.' To what end? 'That your sins may be blotted out'. Not only your murder but all the stains on your souls" (Chrysostom, "Hom. On Acts", 9).

The Second Vatican Council tells us how Christians should treat Jewish people and those who follow other non-Christian religions--with respect and also a prudent zeal to attract them to the faith. "Even though the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf. John 19:6), neither all the Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during His Passion. It is true that the Church is the new people of God, yet the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed. [...] Jews for the most part did not accept the Gospel; on the contrary, many opposed the spreading of it (cf. Romans 11:28-29). Even so, the Apostle Paul maintains that the Jews remain very dear to God, for the sake of the Patriarchs, since God does not take back the gifts He bestowed or the choice He made" (Vatican II, "Nostra Aetate", 4). We must not forget this special position of the Jewish people (cf. Romans 9:4-5) and the fact that from them came Jesus as far as His human lineage was concerned, and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Apostles -- the foundation, the pillars of the Church--and many of the first disciples who proclaimed Christ's Gospel to the world.

Moved by charity, the Church prays to our Lord for the spiritual conversion of the Jewish people; "Christ, God and man, who is the Lord of David and his children, we beseech You that in keeping with the prophecies and promises, Israel should recognize You as Messiah" ("Liturgy of the Hours", Morning Prayer, 31 December).

19. One result of sorrow for sin is a desire to make up for the damage done. On the day of Pentecost many Jews were moved by grace to ask the Apostles what they should do to make atonement. Here also St. Peter encourages them to change their lives and turn to God. This repentance or conversion which Peter preaches is the same message as marked the initial proclamation of the Kingdom (cf. Mark 1:15; 13:1-4). "This means a change of outlook, and it applies to the state of sinful man, who needs to change his ways and turn to God, desirous of breaking away from his sins and repenting and calling on God's mercy" Paul VI, "Homily", 24 February 1971).

On another occasion [Pope] Paul VI explained that the word "conversion" can be translated normally as "change of heart". "We are called to this change and it will make us see many things. The first has to do with interior analysis of our soul [...]: we should examine ourselves as to what is the main direction our life is taking, what attitude is usually to the fore in the way we think and act, what is our reason of being. [...] Is our rudder fixed so as to bring us exactly to our goal or does its direction need perhaps to be changed? [...] By examining ourselves in this way [...] we will discover sins, or at least weaknesses, which call for penance and profound reform" ([Pope] Paul VI, "General Audience", 21 March 1973).

20. A reference to the Parousia or Second Coming of Christ as Judge of the living and the dead (cf. note on 1:11).

22-24. St. Peter wants to show that the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus: He is descended from David (2:30), a prophet (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15), who suffered (2:23), who is the cornerstone (4:11) and who rose from the dead and sits in glory at the right hand of the Father (2:25-34).

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From: Luke 24:35-48

[35] Then they (the disciples) told what had happened on the road, and how He (Jesus) was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Jesus Appears To The Eleven And Their Companions
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[36] As they were saying this, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" [37] But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. [38] And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? [39] See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." [40] And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.

[41] And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" [42] They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, [43] and He took it and ate before them.

Jesus' Last Instructions And Leave-Taking
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[44] Then He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." [45] Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [48] You are witnesses of these things."

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Commentary:

36-43. This appearance of the risen Jesus is reported by St. Luke and St. John (cf. John 20:19-23). St. John reports the institution of the sacrament of Penance, whereas St. Luke puts the stress on the disciples' difficulty in accepting the miracle of the Resurrection, despite the angels' testimony to the women (cf. Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-11) and despite the witness of those who had already seen the risen Lord (cf. Matthew 28:9-10; Mark 16:9-13; Luke 24: 13ff; John 20:11-18).

Jesus appears all of a sudden, when the doors are closed (cf. John 20:19), which explains their surprised reaction. St. Ambrose comments that "He penetrated their closed retreat not because His nature was incorporeal, but because He had the quality of a resurrected body" ("Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc".). "Subtility", which is one of the qualities of a glorified body, means that "the body is totally subject to the soul and ever ready to obey its wishes" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 12, 13), with the result that it can pass through material obstacles without any difficulty.

This scene showing Christ's condescension to confirm for them the truth of His resurrection has a charm all of its own.

41-43. Although His risen body is incapable of suffering, and therefore has no need of food to nourish it, our Lord confirms His disciples' faith in His resurrection by giving them these two proofs--inviting them to touch Him and eating in their presence. "For myself, I know and believe that our Lord was in the flesh even after the Resurrection. And when He came to Peter and his companions, He said to them, 'Here, feel Me and see that I am not a bodiless ghost.' They touched Him and believed, and were convinced that He was flesh and spirit [...].

Moreover, after the Resurrection, He ate and drank with them like a man of flesh and blood, though spiritually one with the Father" (St. Ignatius of Antioch, "Letter to the Christians at Smyrna", III, 1-3).

44-49. St. Matthew stresses that the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Christ, because His immediate audience were Jews, who would accept this as proof that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah. St. Luke does not usually argue along these lines because He is writing for Gentiles; however, in this epilogue he does report, in a summarized way, Christ's statement to the effect that everything foretold about Him had come true. By doing so He shows the unity of Old and New Testaments and that Jesus is truly the Messiah.

46. From St. Luke's account we have seen how slow the Apostles were to grasp Jesus' prophecy of His death and resurrection (cf. 9:45; 18:34). Now that the prophecy is fulfilled Jesus reminds them that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead (cf. Acts 2:1-4).

The Cross is a mystery, in our own life as well as in Christ's: "Jesus suffers to carry out the will of the Father. And you, who also want to carry out the most holy Will of God, following the steps of the Master, can you complain if you meet suffering on your way?" (St. J. Escriva, "The Way", 213).

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Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

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