Sunday, 4/4/2021, Easter Sunday
He Is Risen, Let Us Give Praise and Glory
Christ Gave Us the Priesthood
First Reading Commentary: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
In Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter was speaking to the house of Cornelius when he proclaimed that the disciples were chosen by God in advance. St. Peter said that they ate and drank with Christ after His Resurrection and were witnesses to what Christ said and did. St. Peter also said that the disciples were commissioned by Christ to preach and testify that He is the appointed one by God as judge of the living and of the dead and that all of the prophets bear witness and that believers will receive forgiveness of sins through the name of Christ.
In his message, St. Peter validated the priesthood and pointed out that the disciples were the first priests and bishops (Apostles) of the Church, ordained by Christ. All priests in the Catholic Church become direct descendants of the first priests through the Sacrament of Holy Orders when they are ordained. Christ bestowed on the priesthood, the authority to consecrate bread and wine at the Last Supper. This is why only a priest can consecrate bread and wine into the Living Body and Blood of Christ (the Eucharist) and therefore, only a priest can be the main celebrant at the Mass.
When St. Peter tells us, that believers receive forgiveness of sins through the name of Jesus, he is referring to the Sacrament of Confession. Christ gave the authority to absolve sins, first to Peter in Matthew 16:19 and then after His Resurrection, to all of the disciples, except for Thomas who was not present, when He said, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." John 20:23
After a person makes their confession and makes a good act of contrition, the priest will say, “I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” Those of us who believe in the Sacrament of Confession and understand how the grace flows in Confession, also know and understand that it is not the priest forgiving the sin and granting absolution. It is Jesus speaking through the priest. Therefore, we are forgiven through the name of Jesus as St. Peter said.
If the confession is sincere and honest, the grace of the sacrament will flow. Not because the priest is forgiving the sin but because Christ is forgiving the sin through the priest. The priest is an intermediary. His ears are the physical ears for us that Christ uses to hear the confession. The priest’s mouth is the physical mouth for us that Christ uses to forgive us of our sins. The authority to absolve sins is something which Christ gave specifically to the disciples and therefore, the priesthood, and no one else. That is why only a priest can hear confessions.
Christ gave us the priesthood so that He could fulfill His promise of being with us always. Christ is with us in the Eucharist and together with the Father and the Spirit; He is with us in Confession. Christ gave us the sacraments and without the priesthood, no one could ever receive the grace of the sacraments.
Set Priorities Straight
Second Reading Commentary: Colossians 3:1-4 and 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
There is a choice for today’s second reading. The first choice comes from the letter of St. Paul to the Colossians. The second comes from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Both letters bear the same message.
St. Paul is telling us to set our priorities straight. In Colossians, he tells us to seek what is above and not what is on earth. He tells us that we have died and that Christ is our life and that when He appears, we will appear with Him in glory. Paul is giving us the same message that he gave us in last night’s Epistle—Romans 6:3-11—that in Baptism, we are dead to sin but alive in Christ.
In first Corinthians, St. Paul tells us to get rid of the old yeast which is the yeast of malice and wickedness. He tells us that our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed and that we should celebrate the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
In both readings, St. Paul is telling us to make Christ number one in our lives because when Christ gave His human life for us, our sins died with Him. But in order to stay away from sin, we must stay with Christ—He must be priority number one.
Don’t Worry About the How
Gospel Commentary John 20:1-9
In today’s Gospel of the Resurrection according to John, we learn that Peter was not alone when he ran to the tomb of Jesus. There was another disciple with him. John does not refer to himself by name in his Gospel and it is believed that John was the other disciple who ran to the tomb with Peter.
John tells us that Peter and the other disciple did not understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead. We also know from the other Gospels that all of the disciples were afraid but that is another discussion. The word, “understand”, is what I want to focus on in this commentary.
Peter and John knew the Scripture but did not understand it. There are several Scriptures that point to the Resurrection. One of them is Hosea 6:2 which says, “He will revive us after two days; on the third day, he will raise us up, to live in his presence.”
Put yourself in the place of Peter and John. They knew this Scripture but did not understand that it was Jesus who would raise up on the third day. But think about it. Christ did promise the Kingdom of Heaven and Christ did tell the disciples that He was going to prepare a place in His Father’s house. In order to accomplish that, the sins of the world had to be nailed to the cross and Christ had to defeat death with His Resurrection. Peter, John and the other disciples had not made that connection.
They were like a student in the classroom learning a difficult subject. The teacher, in this case, Jesus, gives the information but the student has a difficult time comprehending that information. All of us are like that student when it comes to understanding Jesus—God. That is why we have the gift of faith and why we must use that gift.
But what is really important here is that Christ told the disciples that He would rise on the third day. They believed in Jesus so, they knew what happened. They saw Jesus perform many great works and they knew that Jesus always did what He said that He was going to do and did not break promises. But this was something which was new and overwhelming for them. The idea that someone could raise up from the dead under their own power was something that they had never seen before. They had to see the empty tomb to believe that it really did happen.
Have you ever been a witness to something happening, which you knew was going to happen before it did, but not be able to understand how it happened? We all have had such experiences in life. In fact, we do every day but most of us make no big deal of it or even pay attention to it. Some of us fail to even make the connection.
We live in and are a part of nature. We know what happens in nature and we can often tell when something is going to happen before it does. In fact, we are getting better at making weather predictions thanks to advancements in technology. But we do not understand how certain things happen. Science has been trying to answer the question of “how” on many things for centuries and every time they come up with an answer to something, science is left with another question of “how.” That is because everything that exists is the result of an act of God and our human minds will never be able to understand the Almighty.
On this day that we celebrate the Glorious Resurrection of Christ, let us not trouble ourselves with how He did it. Let us just put our faith in Christ and give Him all praise and glory because He did. And don’t forget to say, “Thank You” because there would be no heaven for us if He had changed His mind. Amen.