Third Sunday of Easter
Reading I Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-9
Reading II 1 John 2:1-5
Gospel Luke 24:35-48
You live your life by what has been given to you. If you mull over that for a while it is going to take you to different places. What Jesus is trying to say to us is, “You know, it’s been 2,000 years now since I went through all of this. All of you have been baptized. You all keep coming and breaking bread. You keep forgiving each other. You were confirmed in the Spirit. Why is it that you struggle with life if you have everything?”
It’s a good question for us. The age may vary, but if someone is in their eighties or nineties and they have the gift of memory, when God takes people to that age he is telling them, “Don’t get excited about anything. Just reflect on your life and see where I have taken you. Then look back and when you thought I deserted you, you will see that I really blessed you and I gave you another door that gave you so much happiness.”
Look around at your neighbors. You’ve all been praying for each other and everybody prays for everything to be wonderful. You didn’t wake up this morning and say, “God, I’m feeling terrific. I think I’m due for a bad day.” We don’t do that. We are always wanting something wonderful and good. Yet God says, “If the Spirit is with you, you have to make it a good day. You have everything that you need.”
If we were to ask all the adults here to fill out a questionnaire, here are the questions: Whatever kind of work you do, or if you are retired the type of work that you used to do, did it make you happy? Or have you been miserable for the past fifty years doing something that you absolutely hated doing and cursing God that you should have had other gifts.
Then all of a sudden God might say, “I’m going to give you a blessing and I am going to take you to a place you are least going to expect. And you will have all the gifts to enjoy life to the fullest and I am going to wait and see if you are still going to complain, or if you are going to use how I blessed you.”
It’s not about how much money we make, it’s about — are we really happy people? Are we joy filled? Are we at peace with ourselves? It also answers the question about why we get into all sorts of addictions — it is because we are choking God out of our life. So it’s a tough question. Yet, Jesus says to us, “Just remember, the Spirit is within you and you are gifted in a way that no one else can be gifted. And so I ask you in the silence of your own hearts, ‘Are you really living your life the way I have invited you to live it?’ ”
We see it in each other, but sometimes we don’t see it within ourselves. That is why we live in community. That is why people get married, that’s why people have families, that is why we live in neighborhoods, that’s why we work with other people. That is why we come to Eucharist with other people — because we need all of that so each one of us can sense how we are being called.
When two people stand here and enter into marriage, they don’t just stand here until they die. They get out of church and they open their lives to all kinds of surprises. I did the same thing at ordination. I’m still not standing on the floor of the cathedral. The church said, “Get out of here. Go out and live your life and your faith.” And if you’re really in-sync with God, you’re going to be a person of peace and joy.
When we have a bad day — take it only as a bad day. A day only lasts for 24 hours so then move on to the next day. When somebody gets depressed you can hand them food, money, anything, and that person might respond, “I don’t want anything. I don’t want to go anywhere.” Jesus would just walk in and say, “Peace be with you. Let go of all this stress in your life, and just free yourself up and, accept the gifts and the love of life. And now show it to others.”
That’s the power that you and I have to work miracles. When we leave church we should feel happy. When we leave a birthday party we should feel happy. When Easter comes we should feel happy. When Christmas comes we should feel happy. When anniversaries come we should be happy. When it is just an ordinary day and you’ve got fifteen things to do, Jesus says, “But my Spirit is within you.”
So he is saying to all of us, “I want you to answer this question before you leave church this morning: ‘Are you living with everything that I have given you? Or are you trying to live and not receive anything and, if you are, you are going to suffocate the Easter joy.’ ”
And so today we are going to break bread together. We are going to drink of the one chalice. We are going to be blessed to “go forth.” It’s up to us to determine how we will live the rest of this day.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.