April 18, 2021
Easter is rooted in the Passover, the escape from slavery. Our world is cruelly oppressed by evil. How can we escape? St. Peter’s preaching shows us the 2 keys: recognizing our sin and trusting in Jesus’ Mercy. Repent, and believe the Good News.
- As the Israelites were liberated from Egypt, we are asked now, today, to be liberated from evil, sin and Satan so God can lead us to the kingdom of Heaven.
- An important lessen is to proclaim the truth of sin and be cleansed by the power of confession. Denouncing sin is a preparation for receiving mercy.
- We are living in a society which doesn’t even want to use the word sin or even recognize that there truly are sins.
- An important plan of action that was repeated all throughout Scripture and is good for us today is to repent from sin and turn to Jesus.
- The stigmata were a sign of the sins of the apostles who denied and abandoned Jesus.
- We are called to exercise our humility and recognize our own sinfulness and to have faith in Jesus. Humility and Trust.
We live in a world where there’s evil, a lot of evil, that hurts all of us. In this Easter time, we remember that Jesus has a practical reason for having us live this, He wants to liberate us from evil and lead us to the kingdom of heaven. In the Gospel, St. Peter announces two truths: the bad news of our sin and the good news of Jesus.
Peter then gives a call to action, “Repent, therefore, and turn again.” Our call to action this Easter is to recognize our sin, confess it and turn to Jesus. Repent and believe. These 50 days of Easter is given to help strengthen us in faith and trust in Jesus.
We live in a world where there’s evil, a lot of evil, that hurts all of us, always. And so, in this Easter time that we’re living in this year, 2021, we remember that Jesus has a practical reason for having us live this, and having us live that this year. There’s something He wants to help us do. He wants to liberate us from evil, liberate from evil. This is a time to help liberate us from evil and lead us to the kingdom of heaven. And so this Easter time that we’re living, which, of course takes us back, (the next time you can bring sleeping bags, right, that’ll be helpful in this weather) this Easter time takes us back to Jesus’ suffering and death, to liberate us from sin. But when did that happen? By God’s providence, that happened at the time of Passover, so there’s an important reason for that. So that takes us all the way back to the Israelites slavery in Egypt, and how God wanted to free them from the oppression of Egypt and lead them to the promised land. And that was a preparation for a much greater liberation, the liberation from the power of Satan, who attacks all of us, and lead us, liberate us from the power of Satan, and as I say, bring them into His kingdom. So just like for the people of Egypt, God didn’t want to just give them nice ideas, He wanted to make something happen, to liberate them. And so in this Easter season, God wants to also liberate us. There’s a practical purpose, that is He wants to help us do something effective, that makes a difference, that changes something in our lives, that changes everything in our lives. He wants to give us an effective plan of action. So, it has to be realistic, realistic about the evil in our world, but it also should be transcendent. That is, which takes us beyond this evil to something much greater than just what we’re living, and at the same time, to be practical, it should be simple, so that we can understand it, and we can remember it and put it into practice. That’s a big task, and that’s what He’s teaching us in this Easter season. The first reading today gives us an extreme example because Peter and John has just healed a man, and that’s bringing a lot of people together in Jerusalem. This is taking place just a couple months probably or after Pentecost, and some of the people that Peter is talking to, are some of the people who are calling for Jesus to be crucified. They have committed a very terrible sin. So what is Peter gonna do in that situation? This is an extreme case of this liberation from evil because there’s a very extreme evil that they’re guilty of. So what does Peter do? What would you have done in that situation? That’s an interesting thing in a very difficult situation. So this is a lesson, this is teaching us. So what Peter doesn’t do is ignore the evil of the sin that they had committed. He doesn’t say it doesn’t matter what they did. He doesn’t say it’s okay. He doesn’t say, “Who am I to judge?” He doesn’t say, “Well, everybody sees things differently, people have different moralities and so forth, everybody has their own truth. He doesn’t say that. In fact, Peter, you could say he’s very judgmental, is very judgmental. He says what is the most politically incorrect and even dangerous. These are the same people who help crucify Jesus, so what he’s saying is extremely dangerous, so he proclaims Jesus. “The God of our fathers has glorified His servant Jesus.” And then what does he say? “Whom you handed over and denied in Pilots presence, when he decided to release Him, you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked that a murder be released to you. The author of life, you put to death.” So Peter is proclaiming very boldly, the sin of the people who are listening to him, the same people who could stone him at that moment. So that’s an important lesson, proclaiming the truth of sin. St. John says, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It’s St. John’s talking about how powerful confession is, because it permits us to be cleansed. But then they repeat, he says, “if we say we have not sinned, we make of Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” Last Sunday, we celebrated the great feast of Divine Mercy. And the Catechism says, to receive God’s mercy, we must admit our faults. To do its’ work, Grace must uncover sin, so as to convert our hearts. So denouncing sin is a preparation for receiving mercy. And that might seem like denouncing sin, denouncing evil, that might sound like a very non controversial thing to say. But Peter was talking to them about a sin that their leaders were telling them was a good and holy thing to do, that Jesus was a blasphemer, a fraud, and they should put them to death. And also, are their sins in our society, which our society does not recognize as sin? Like abortion, and even more recently, for instance, the drag queen story hours, taking young kids to this as a good and tolerant thing to do. Is that a good thing? In fact, we’re living in a society which doesn’t even want to use the word sin, doesn’t even want to recognize that there truly are sins. So denouncing sin is not something we want to hear, it’s bad news, like getting some diagnosis or bad news, right? Like, I don’t want to go to the doctor, because I don’t want to hear it is gonna say. But it’s if there’s a bad diagnosis, it’s much better to get it so that we can be healed of it, than to ignore it. And so, diagnosing sin is bad news, but it’s also like a diagnosis, very helpful, we need to hear it. So that’s the first thing Peter does. But that’s not the only thing he does. He’s announcing two truths, the bad news of sin, and the good news of Jesus, the bad news of sin and the good news of Jesus. It’s Jesus, who is healed this man, and Jesus is the Lord. And so those are the two key truths that St. Peter is announcing, the bad news and the good news, the bad news of our sin, and the good news of Jesus. So after announcing those truths, then what’s he going to do about it? He’s not going to just say that you’re stuck with it. That’s the way the world treats us, that we’re stuck with the bad of our life. But St. Peter here is calling them to action, that there’s something they can do to change that. He wasn’t telling it to them, just to plunge them in guilt, he was telling them, since like a doctor, if it’s a good and competent doctor, it gives a diagnosis, especially if he knows what can heal it. That’s what St Peter is doing, he is giving them the diagnosis, but then he’s telling them what they can do to change that. So what follows then is a call to action. And he begins by saying, “Now I know brothers, that you acted out of ignorance.” So he’s given a reason for mercy, a motive of mercy. So now comes the call for them to do something. What’s he gonna say? “Repent, therefore, and turn again.” So what will happen if they do that, “that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” And he goes on to talk to them about how what they had just experienced in Jerusalem, was what the prophet had prophesied to help them believe in Jesus. Then St. Peter, it started out so harshly, listen to what he says, “You are the sons of the prophets, and have the covenant which God gave to your fathers, same to Abraham, and in your posterity, which they are, shall all the families of the earth be blessed. God raised up his servant, and sent him to you first, to bless you, and turn every one of you from your wickedness.” So St. Peter called them to recognize their sinfulness, but it’s also showing them how much God loves them, and if they accept that love manifested in Jesus, they can be freed of the evil that they have committed. And so just like Moses led the people from the slavery and oppression to the promised land, St. Peter’s announcing sin, and announcing Jesus, heaven, and is announced and then so is calling them to leave sin behind ,to repent of sin, and to turn to Jesus, to turn away from sin, and then turn to Jesus. So that’s the simple plan of action, repent from sin, and turn to Jesus. And we see this simple, important plan repeated throughout Scripture. Look at the gospel we just heard. Jesus appeared to the apostles, and He says, “He shows them His hands and His feet. What’s in the hands and feet of Jesus? The stigmata and what are they stigmata, saying to the apostles? They are signs of the sins of the apostles. They are partly responsible for denying and abandoning Jesus, so they’re seeing that those heads and feet of Jesus show them the reality of their sin. But they also show them something greater, the love of Jesus for them, that Jesus has suffered this and sacrificed it, for love of them, greater than their sins, is His sacrifice. And so then He calls them to be witnesses of forgiveness of sins, they are being forgiven, and He’s calling them to be witnesses of forgiveness of sins. And so, at the beginning of His ministry, what did Jesus say, He said, “Repent, and believe in the good news.” You say that there’s two key points are there right from the beginning, repent and believe in the good news. Turn away, recognize and turn away from sin, and turn to Jesus. And so that’s why we have lent, first of all, which is to recognize and repent from the sin in our life. And then we have this Easter season, these 50 days of Easter, which are to help us grow in faith in Jesus Christ, grow in faith, and so it begins. So there’s, with Lent, we’re called to humility, to exercise our humility and recognize our own sinfulness. And in this Easter season, we’re called to faith, to trust in Jesus because that’s difficult for us. We struggle especially today it’s so difficult to trust to have faith, remember we celebrate the Divine Mercy last week Jesus said to Saint Faustina, repeat over, over and over and over again. For His mercy to be poured out, He needs trust. So humility, and trust, humility and trust, humility and trust, so Jesus, in Lent and Easter time are forming us, and these important exercises, acts of humility, and acts of trust. Some people need more of one, and some people need more the other. Some people need to recognize sin that’s in their life, and they’re denying, they’re ignoring, so they need first of all to recognize and repent from that sin. Some people, on the contrary, are hyper aware of their sins, overly aware, too focused on their sins, even to the point of scruples, and discouragement and despair. And they need especially not to be thinking of sin, but to be focused on Jesus, on trusting in Jesus, on the infinite mercy of God. And so, even in that Divine Mercy message, Jesus makes it because if you read the diary of St. Faustina, Jesus has some strong words about sin. It’s not all fluffy, and lovey-dovey somewhere, some of it’s very harsh, but that’s necessary, that also has mercy. So we have to recognize our need for mercy, so we can turn to His mercy. And so in this Mass that we’re celebrating right now, this Mass is a path of liberation, a call of liberation. And so at the beginning of Mass, what do we say, “I confess to Almighty God, I confess that I have grively sinned. And then what are we going to say in just a few moments? I believe, I confess my sins, I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Repent and believe. And so this Easter, this 50 days of Easter is given to help strengthen us in faith and trust in Jesus. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.