Bread in the Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

All Saints Catholic Church

My Brothers and Sisters,

Those of us who bear the name of Christian are in the midst of celebrating the central mystery of our Faith: The Death and Resurrection of Jesus. On this Third Sunday of Easter, April 19, our readings are: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19; 1st John 2: 1-5a; Luke 24: 35-48.

In the first reading Peter addresses the folks who helped put Jesus to death. Peter, the same one who also denied Him, is now preaching that the author of life has been put to death, but that those who denied Him will not receive a just sentence for their crime, but will be forgiven and their sins will be wiped away. Just as with Peter, their ignorance saved them and they were able to rejoice in the Resurrection. And all of us can certainly claim ignorance when we deny Him and place ourselves first.

And John carries on the same saving message in the second reading. We hear that even though we do commit sin, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.” And He is not just our Advocate but also the Advocate for the whole world.

The Gospel starts with a reference to the two from Emmaus. After they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, they rushed back to Jerusalem and are now telling the rest of the disciples what they experienced in their own home. And Jesus comes again and says to all: “Peace be with you.” He is not a ghost, but He is not a resuscitated body either. He is truly present to them and continues His teaching, some of which they did not understand before the Death and Resurrection. His words were life giving. He said that all that had been written about Him in the Law, the prophets and the psalms was fulfilled. And the heart of the message was: “Thus it is written that 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 nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to these things.”

What meaning for us here and now? We who claim as our own the name “Christian,” are the witnesses now. We have been baptized and been washed clean in the water, we have been anointed with Holy Chrism as a priest, prophet and servant leader. We become the authentic voice of a merciful, loving, forgiving God through Jesus the Risen Lord.

This is now. We carry the precious gift of God’s powerful presence in our very hearts. When we reach out and touch those in need, those suffering from poverty, violence, and sexual abuse, those who have lost all hope, we are not only witnesses, but also the very heart of God being what we were anointed to be, Christ. He has no hands but yours, no feet but yours, no caring heart but yours. Christ has Risen!