Catholic homily outline for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B – Repent and Be Saved

road to emmausCentral idea: Repent and be saved. Doctrine: Encounter with Christ. Practical application: Face to face with the Truth.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 47, click here.

Central idea: Repent and be saved

Reading 1 Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Peter said to the people:
“The God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

  • In Jerusalem, at Solomon’s Portico in the Temple precincts, Peter has just restored to wholeness the beggar who was lame since birth.
  • The Jews who witnessed this were filled with wonder and Peter took the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them.
  • Our God, he said to them, has glorified Jesus. Even though he was Holy and Righteous, you people denied him before this Gentile ruler who could see his innocence. You people chose a murderer over the author of life, but God made his choice and raised him from the dead.
  • You have an excuse, though, Peter continues: your ignorance, which your leaders shared. You didn’t realize that the Messiah would suffer.
  • The action Peter called them to perform was to “repent . . . and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9

R. Lord, let your face shine on us or R. Alleluia.

When I call, answer me, O my just God,
you who relieve me when I am in distress;
have pity on me, and hear my prayer!

Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one;
the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.

O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
You put gladness into my heart.

As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep,
for you alone, O LORD,
bring security to my dwelling.

  • When God’s faithful realize they are in trouble, they call upon the Lord to deliver them.
  • Peter’s sermon in Solomon’s Portico uncovered for the Jews gathered around him the serious mistake they had made and the grave evil in which they had participated. But if they repent, everything will be fine again.
  • The colossal mistakes we repeatedly can make are to deny there is something wrong when there is and to deny that we have done something wrong when we have.
  • The sooner we turn to the Lord the sooner we will have an answer, relief, mercy, gladness, security, and peace.

Reading 2 1 Jn 2:1-5a

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.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.

  • It is easy to forget that Christ became man to redeem us from sin.
  • It is easy to forget that we need that redemption because we are sinners.
  • To know Christ is to be friends with him. His friendship toward us is established by being “expiation for our sins.” Our friendship toward him is established by keeping his commandments.
  • When we do not keep his commandments we sin. We can either confess our sins and return to his friendship or deny we have sinned and make ourselves liars who say we know Christ when we don’t.

Gospel Lk 24:35-48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the 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 the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

  • Christianity began because Christ’s disciples believed he rose from the dead. They believed this because of the evidence of their senses: Christ appeared to them, spoke to them, showed them where he had been wounded, and even ate something in front of them to show them he was no ghost.
  • Luke recounts that the apostles experienced a flood of emotions: they were startled and terrified, troubled and full of questions, and incredulous for joy and amazed.
  • Our Lord gave them a key, so to speak, to understand him and the Jewish Scriptures: His death and resurrection and his disciples’ mission fulfill the law and the prophets and the psalms.
  • Our Lord also gave them their commission: to preach to all nations repentance from sin in his name.
  • Thus the core of our faith and of these readings is this: Christ has saved us from our sins through his suffering so we should repent.
    • Christ is the Savior.
    • He saved us through his suffering.
    • So turn from your sins.
    • Repent and be saved.

Doctrine: Encounter with Christ

  • In the Responsorial Psalm we sang, “The LORD will hear me when I call upon him.”
  • A practical conclusion we can draw from this Psalm is that is that the sooner we turn to him the sooner we will have an answer, relief, mercy, gladness, security, and peace.
  • What is decisive is that in this call and answer there is a real encounter with Christ who can heal us.
  • Pope Francis has written “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord’.”(Evangelium Gaudium §3, quoted in LIOM155)
  • This is why the Church exists, Pope St. John Paul II explains: “In order to make this ‘encounter’ with Christ possible, God willed his Church. Indeed, the Church ‘wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life.’” (Veritatis Splendor §7, quoted in LIOM §156)

Practical application: Face to face with Truth

  • How is one open to a personal encounter with Christ? How does one have this encounter? How can it be daily?
  • In one sense this is something between God and each individual. There are as many ways as there are people. Yet it is possible for us because Baptism makes us children of God. It is also possible through the graces of the other sacraments we have received which persist in us: Confirmation, Matrimony, or Holy Orders. It is also possible through those sacraments we can receive on many occasions, like Reconciliation and, above all, the Eucharist.
  • While this personal encounter comes about through the Church it usually needs to occur in some kind of quietness. This quietness requires not only a withdrawal from the noise and business of the world outside us. It also requires us to quiet ourselves, because we can kneel, close our eyes, and look like we are praying, and yet be completely occupied by our own thoughts.
    • One reason we may want to occupy ourselves even when we are praying is that we are afraid of this encounter actually happening. We can be afraid that God wants to ask for something we don’t want to give.
    • Another reason we might want to occupy ourselves is the fear that nothing will actually occur. We may doubt that God even exists.
  • The answer, I think, are the virtues of courage, love, and optimism: courage to face the truth, love for the truth, and confidence that the truth is always best.
  • In this way, we can say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” or “I come to do your will,” and really mean it. This means we are open to an encounter with Christ.






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