Third Sunday of Easter
"It Is The Lord"
The 1st two readings are about standing firm in adversity. How would you react if the community rallied against you? The apostles, in that position stood firm, empowered by their experience of the risen Christ. The experience of the risen Christ (and the outpouring of the Spirit) transformed feeble men into courageous witnesses of God’s Son. And the reading from the Apocalypse was about Jesus’ tribulation and how he ‘stood firm’ to the end, thus making him worthy of our adoration.
So there’s two things to take away from the readings. First, the vision of Jesus—the victorious Lamb of God—is to give us hope in the moments of suffering that we may face. Tribulation and suffering will come to us. When we unite those sacrifices with the Sacrifice of Jesus we share in the Lord’s victory. This is part of the Good Friday message that suffering can be redemptive.
The second take-away is to stand firm in our faith. The Easter message is that the Lord is risen and is among us. But he rose not to the same life as before. Jesus’ intention in appearing to his disciples is to summon them to faith in him and in the life of the world to come. Disciples are to stand firm and give witness to what God has done, and to the new life we are called.
In fact the model of what it is to be a disciple is he or she whose faith in Jesus is unflinching. And the author of today’s Gospel (John) makes a point in telling his readers exactly how to be a model disciple. That is to be like the beloved: the beloved who leant on Jesus breast at the last supper, who was with Mary under the Cross, who was the first to run to the tomb and who, unlike Peter, saw and believed.
Today the beloved is again presented as a model of faith. His faith is unflinching. Did you notice that in appearing to seven of the male disciples in a scene by the Lake of Galilee, it is the beloved who recognises Jesus? The text reads, “The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’”
The Gospel of John has many idiosyncrasies. One thing it underscores is that the beloved is the model disciple who unflinchingly undertakes the journey of faith. The beloved shows us that faith in the identity of Jesus allows disciples to give witness to him in a hostile world. And this is desirable because it is by faith in Jesus that we have life in his name.
So, rejoice you Christians. You have hope amidst every adversity and you have life in the name of Jesus – stand firm in your faith!