I often refer to the first reading on Sundays as the OT reading. Today, again, it’s from Acts, which is in the NT, of course. So I’m going to have to stop referring to it as OT. Maybe 1R? Let’s give it a try.
The 1R is from Acts, Peter speaking. Amazingly, he says of Jesus, you handed him over and denied him. You! As if Peter himself had not famously denied Christ three times. The nerve of this guy!
Okay, I’m being a bit cheeky here. And I appreciate Peter articulating the theology that Christ died for all of us, for our sins, Peter’s included. But his phrasing here is all in the second person, not first or first plural even. So he’s right, but he’s not being especially nice about it.
The 2R is from John, who starts out with some second person, but then moves to first plural, and then ends in the third. So he’s all over the map. But again with the same thing: “He is expiation for our sins.”
The Gospel is from St. Luke, apparently just after the breaking of the bread at Emmaus. I love the Caravaggio depiction, with the disciple on the left leaping up from his chair and the disciple on the right with his hands flung out in shock and wonder. And then in today’s reading, the two disciples are back with the rest, describing what’s happened when Christ again appears in their midst. And then, what’s now got to be one of my favorite lines in all of Scripture, the risen Lord, having gone through the Passion and having risen from the dead, asks:
Have you anything here to eat?
And so they give him a piece of baked fish, and he eats it. How awesome is that? In the one sense, he’s proving to the disciples, and to us, that he really has come back from the dead. A ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones, he tells them. Ghosts don’t eat. On the other hand, it’s just so great a little human drama moment, a little slice of life. Just sets the scene so well for me, like when St. John’s Gospel mentions the time of day or has Jesus doodle in the dirt.
Then Christ opens their minds to understand the Scriptures. So I guess that’s why Peter can be so bold then, later in Acts, like we heard earlier. He has seen and believed and had this mind opening, and will later receive the Holy Spirit at Pentacost. So I guess I can forgive him his nerve.