Show and Tell

Sunday April 18, 2021, The Third Sunday of Easter (Cycle B)

The tie in between today’s readings: The Two Sides of Evangelism

Psalm 4:1-9, Acts 3:13-19, 1 John 2:1-5, Luke 24:35-48

Today’s gospel in Luke 24:35-48 begins with two excited followers of Jesus telling the hiding disciples about their encounter with the risen Lord in Emmaus. Suddenly, Christ appears in their midst. After some awkward moments of saying “Hey, guys, it’s really Me!” the astonished men joyfully realize that the resurrection is true. Getting past that, Jesus opens their minds to understand the Scripture about Himself and then gives them the command to bear witness of Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. So, just as Jesus’ appearance and tutoring led the Apostles in faith and understanding, they too, will use physical evidence as an opening for the message of the Gospel. In other words, God’s whole method for the Church’s message to save mankind from eternal destruction will be one big Show and Tell. Let’s fast forward to see this plan in action.  

Unfortunately, our reading in Acts 3:13-19 starts in the middle of the story. To catch up, Peter and John come across a lame beggar on their way to the temple. Peter, the penniless, tells the man that they have something better than money. With that, the fisher of men commands him to rise up and walk in the name of Jesus Christ. Peter lifts him up by the hand and sets him leaping for joy. The former cripple enthusiastically follows them into the temple, walking and loudly praising God for his healing. This causes no small stir among everyone who knew him from the hood. By the time they reach the portico of Solomon a large and curious crowd has gathered around them. Peter seizes his opportunity and launches into the gospel message of forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ. In the middle of the sermon the Apostles are arrested and taken away, but in this episode of show and tell, five thousand souls became believers that day.

Now a days, miracles come much fewer and far between than they did during the days of the Apostles, but the principle of show and tell lives on. With the word of God being more presently available in the Bible, the proof that people need has shifted from the dramatic one-off event of a supernatural sign to a more subtle daily personal witness. Our epistle in 1 John 2:1-5 advises us on the most crucial aspect of the show part of the equation: a holy life. Miracles are held in suspicion by the world and their impact is blunted by skepticism. But the accusation of “hypocrite” against a believer is more destructive to the Church than any atomic bomb. So, John’s message in a nutshell is don’t sin and if you do sin: confess it, repent, and get back on track. The world is looking at us to see if all of this Jesus stuff is for real. Through moral living and charitable actions, like the corporal works of mercy for instance, we can earn a hearing.

So, now you have your hearing, what are you going to say? I have read many a Catholic author who condemn the Protestant approach with faint praise as they quote John 3:16 by saying that the Christian life is deeper than that. Agreed! But I have come across many a lifelong Catholic so steeped in ritual and tradition that their muddled explanation of salvation is practically incoherent. For the sake of just getting a stranger to the Church and past the front door a clear, succinct explanation of the Gospel is needed. We can find it in today’s readings:

And He said to them, “So 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 proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47).

Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

Although written for a different purpose, our reading in Psalm 4 has salvation elements in it: a distressful cry out to God, a repudiation of sin, and a happy ending with peace and joy.

Finally, why not tie it all together with our Lord’s words in John 3:16?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Here is the Gospel: Jesus died and removed the curse of sin from us so that by faith He may live His life in us. There is nothing greater in the human experience than this good news. Learn it! Live it! Show it! Tell everyone!

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