Repent and Be Converted
April 16, 2020 Acts 3: 11-26 Luke 24: 35-48
Still excited over Easter this year? I hope so. This year is so different because we have not been able to celebrate Holy Week and Easter with the pageantry with which we are accustomed. The pandemic has taken away our usual mode of operation. While this certainly is not a good thing, nonetheless, perhaps it offers us a learning opportunity about our faith. Our unique experience this year may invite us to look at the depth of Easter in new ways.
Both our scripture readings today are about post resurrection events. Both begin with moments of overwhelming excitement. The disciples experience the reality of the living Christ in their midst. See my wounded hands and feet? Do you have something to eat? (These certainly are questions we can hear echoed in our pandemic.) The disciples are in absolute awe of the miraculous that they are experiencing. Our reading from Acts begins similarly. People are in awe of the miraculous healing done by Christ through the faith of Peter and John. These things speak of the joy we find in Easter. Surely, we are justified in shouting alleluia!
Yet, we must be careful not to get caught into trying to corral the moment just for ourselves similar to what the three apostles tried to do on the mountain of transfiguration. They wanted to freeze-dry that moment by erecting three memorials but Jesus would have none of it. He knew there was something more. He took them down from the mountaintop to show them “the more” that needed to be done …. to heal the broken, to be compassionate and forgiving, to offer hope, to pray, to offer oneself for brothers and sisters.
In both readings today, after the initial awe, we read that the people in Acts and the disciples in the gospel needed further instruction. Peter explains to the Jews the meaning of their tradition in the context of their new experience of the living Christ. In the gospel, Jesus explains to his disciples, “he opened their minds,” to the new meaning of not just the scriptures but also all that they had experienced with him. Throughout the Easter Season let us pray that we, too, will be opened to seek understanding.
Understanding what? That the call that we all heard at the very beginning of the gospels, the call to repent and believe, to convert our hearts, was not just words. The call was an invitation to an experience, the transforming experience of Jesus. So yes, we celebrate the joy of Easter but let us also remember to come down from that mountaintop and bring that joyful message, that living Word, to the world. Acts says it is to be brought to “all the families of the earth” and the gospel says “to all the nations.” May our Easter understanding lead us to be Good News today for our world so needs it!
May Christ’s Holy Passion, Death and Resurrection forever be in our hearts and fruitful in our lives!
Ernie Rivard is a Passionist Associate. He has served as Pastoral Assistant at two New England parishes and in the roles of administrator, associate retreat director and retreat director at Passionist retreat centers over twenty-three years. He is now retired from full-time ministry to spend more time with his family, golf, and reading & research into history, spirituality and contemporary Church issues. He continues to offer occasional retreats and days of reflection.