3rd Sunday of Easter. April 15, 2018
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1Jn 2:1-5; Lk 24:35-48
Easter: The divine response to our regrets
The Mariam-Webster’s dictionary defines regret as “sorrow caused by something beyond one’s power to remedy.” If we value the love of God for us and the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins, then there must be a healthy and appropriate regretful sorrow that we must have for our past sins and failures in our Christian life.
But sometimes our regrets crosses the line into that sorrow that is rooted in our utter inability to remedy the evils that we have done or the evils that we have experienced from others. We show our regrets about the past that we cannot remedy when we say or think such things as:
“How could that happen to me…? What was I thinking? I cannot believe I just did that thing which I vowed never to do again…What did I do to deserve being treated that way…? I only wished that I had said or done something different then… I will never be the same again… I wish I never met or knew that person… How could they do that to me…?”
God responds to the painful regrets of our hearts by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins and by raising Him from the dead on the third day. We could never remedy our sins or its consequences but in and through our faith in the Resurrection, we can overcome our regrets by true repentance, re-commit ourselves to Jesus, and journey into the new beginning that Jesus Christ constantly offers to us irrespective of what the past has been.
St. Peter had every reason to have regrets. He had promised to die for Jesus even if all others abandoned Him only to deny Jesus three times shortly afterwards when questioned in the courtyard of the high priest during the Passion of Christ. He wept bitterly in regret of his actions. But he did something more: He believed in the Resurrection and he made use of the opportunity to re-commit himself to Christ and enter into the new beginning that Jesus offered to him on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. The risen Christ had asked him thrice, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter re-committed himself, “Yes Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus gave him a new beginning, “Feed my sheep.”
In today’s Second Reading, St Peter reminds the audience of their regrettable past actions as well as how the Resurrection delivers them from all past regrets, “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.” The divine calling now is not to live in irremediable regrets but to commit their lives to God, “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
The risen Christ has every reason humanly speaking to have regrets about the past. He had come down from heaven, chosen to be born of the Virgin Mary in a manger, taught powerfully and worked many miracles for the benefit of others, opposed and maligned by those He came to save, accused of being possessed by demons, ignored by many, abandoned by His disciples, and finally crucified. Many of His disciples would not even believe in His resurrection.
But Jesus never lived with regrets about anything because He knew every single thing that would happen to Him from the moment of the Incarnation, culminating in the Resurrection. He affirms this in today’s Gospel, “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…Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” Jesus Christ is not subject to regrets about the past because He is the “Resurrection and the Life.” He lived, suffered, died with that certainty that His Father will raise Him from the grave.
The risen Christ does not highlight the regrettable actions of the apostles but calls them to realize that, because of His Resurrection, they can journey from past regrets into the new beginning that He constantly offers them. Because He is alive today, “Repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all nations.” As believers of the Resurrection, instead of dwelling on the past that we cannot change, we disciples are to re-commit ourselves constantly to the Lord Jesus, “You are witnesses of these things.”
In the Second Reading, St. John reminds us that we should not live in regrets of our past sins once we have asked for forgiveness and repented of the sin, “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 world.” Our risen Lord remains committed to the Father and to us as our Advocate and expiation for our sins, making it possible for us to firmly commit to the Lord and His holy commandments no matter how we have failed in the past, “The way we may be sure that we know Him is to keep His commandments.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in Holy Baptism, we have been branded by the Resurrection event and power in Jesus Christ. We are fallen creatures with this Resurrection power within us. In our weakness, we will do and experience regrettable things, things that we just cannot remedy because, in the first place, we can never really know their full consequences. As we regret and repent for our personal failures, we must never let our inability to remedy our failures now to blind or make us deaf to God’s constant call to recommit our lives to Him and to bear witness to others about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our Eucharist is a communion with the risen Jesus Christ who longs to take away our sins. He offers us a new beginning today as well as the only thing that can remedy our sinful past – our communion in His own precious blood. He longs to remedy the effects of sin in our world and He wants to do so through us, His witnesses in the world, who are inebriated with His atoning blood in today’s Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass. All that He requires of us is that we have an unshakable faith in His Resurrection and a readiness to re-commit ourselves to Him and embrace this new beginning no matter our past regrets.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!