Jesus' Forgiveness flows to us from the Cross

Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

What a mess we would be in were it not for the forgiveness of Jesus. What a mess the disciples would have been in after Easter if Jesus did not forgive them for abandoning him during his Passion. Like last Sunday, the Gospel today (Luke 24:35-48) is another account of Jesus risen from the dead appearing to his disciples on Easter Sunday evening, but from a different perspective to John’s account last Sunday. The two disciples had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus and recognized him only after he had broken bread with them. Now they have returned to Jerusalem to tell the others and after they have shared their account of seeing Jesus, he now appears to the entire group gathered together. Imagine the sense of shame the disciples must now feel for having abandoned Jesus during his Passion. We too feel a sense of shame when we abandon Jesus when we sin. That is really what happens when we sin; we abandon Jesus. We choose something else above Jesus. We put Jesus in second place. Sin is always abandoning Jesus for something or someone else. So it is good when we are sensitive enough to recognize that we have abandoned Jesus and we feel a sense of shame and guilt. I say it is good because when we have a sense of shame or guilt we can turn to Jesus for healing. If we did not have a sense of shame or guilt we would remain in our sorry state of having abandoned Jesus.

But Jesus does not want us to remain in shame or guilt. He did not want his disciples to remain in shame or guilt and so his first words to them as we heard in our Gospel were, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:35) His meeting with his disciples is really one in which he forgives them for having abandoned him. He comes to them again as the same familiar person and so he shows them the wounds in his hands and feet (Luke 24:39). Naturally they would have wondered about the wounds. He had eaten many meals with them and now once again he eats a meal with them, whatever piece of fish they had was good enough for him (Luke 24:41-43). This gentle meeting did so much to ease the tension and calm nerves. Emotions were beginning to return to normal again. “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?” he asks to reassure them that everything is okay (Luke 24:38). Jesus is accepting his disciples as his disciples again and not chastising them for having abandoned him. After we sin Jesus wants us to return to him quickly also.

Now that the disciples have received the forgiveness of Jesus he gives them a mission as we heard in the Gospel, to preach his forgiveness to others,

Thus it is written that the Messiah 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. (Luke 24:46-48)

Notice that Jesus expects people to repent of their sins. He said,

Thus it is written that the Messiah 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… (Luke 24:46-47)

When we sin our natural reaction is to repent of our sins. We want to do penance to make up for having abandoned Jesus by sinning. As Peter said in the first reading, “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” (Acts 3:19) The best repentance is to make a firm decision not to commit that sin again. We are only sincere in our sorrow for sin if we really decide to put Jesus first and not abandon him again.

When we repent and are genuinely sorry and want to return to Jesus and not sin again he forgives us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. How is it that we can receive the forgiveness of Jesus? Jesus paid the price for our sins by his passion and death on the cross. The forgiveness of Jesus flows to us from the cross. Remember the words of Jesus during the Last Supper which we hear in every Mass at the consecration,

“This is my Body which will be given up for you…”

“This is the cup of my blood. It will be shed for you and for all for the forgiveness of sins…”

It is from Jesus on the cross that forgiveness comes to us. Notice also that in our Gospel today as Jesus restores the broken relationship with his disciples he shows them the wounds in his hands and his feet. (Luke 24:39) It is the pain Jesus suffered from those wounds that heals the disciples and heals us of our sins.

When our sins cry out to the Father for punishment, the passion, death and the wounds of Jesus cry out to the Father to forgive us instead. So in the second reading we heard,

My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)

There is judgment and our sins are evidence against us, but Jesus pleads on our behalf and we could have no better attorney than Jesus to plead our case. Jesus’ wounds are the defense on our behalf so that we can gain forgiveness.

When we sin Jesus does not want us to remain in shame or guilt. He wants to heal the broken relationship, broken by our abandoning him in sin. Therefore after sin we always want to return to Jesus in repentance and sorrow. He says to us, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:35) From his wounds we receive forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation as the priest in the name of God absolves us of our sins.

Thus it is written that the Messiah 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… (Luke 24:46-47)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in a parish in Maryland near where I have joined the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Third Sunday of Easter Year B

Jesus was like us in every way except sin - he waits for you to approach him

Related Homilies: on God’s forgiveness “Neither do I condemn you. Go and do not sin again”

Let us wash at the Pool of Siloam and be filled with Jesus’ light

Let Jesus dispose of the garbage caused by sin

The Passion of Jesus moves us to Repentance

Why confess sins to a priest?

Second Reading: our advocate with Father Jesus pleads for us

stories about God’s forgiveness

stories about confession of sin