3rd Week in Easter, Monday – 19th April 2021 — Gospel: John 6,22-29
Faith Precede Works
The crowds who were seeking perishable food asked Jesus another question ‘what specific works they must do in order to obtain this eternal bread? (Jn 6,28)’. Steeped in legalistic religion, this question echoes their preoccupation with rituals, sacraments, good works, and tradition that is required to merit salvation (Rom 10,2-4). Jesus’ response contradicts this sense of works-based salvation. Salvation is not earned by any particular good deed. Jesus saw through their hypocrisy. They pretended that they wanted to work for God, and yet they did not want to have anything to do with the Son of God. Jesus made it clear that the work is not TO DO, but TO BE-LIVE on the Saviour. Salvation is based on the belief, in the One whom God had sent (Jn 6,29). It is not the works of the law, nor bringing of an offering to the altar; but faith in Jesus Christ. To the question of the Philippian jailer, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul replied as Jesus had done here, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16,31). Further Paul highlighted, Salvation is by faith through grace, and not by works; for it is a gift that God gives in response to one’s faith (Eph 2,8-10). Many seek to earn their way to heaven by good works. But before they can do good works for God, they must first believe in Jesus Christ. Good works do not precede salvation; rather they follow it. The only good work a sinner can do is to confess his sins and receive Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Third Sunday of Easter – 18th April 2021 — Gospel: Luke 24, 35-48
Peace of Relationship and Reconciliation
Many exciting things had happened on the first Easter Sunday that in the evening the eleven apostles and other believers met together and shared their witness with one another. While Cleopas and his friend were telling their story from Emmaus, Jesus Himself appeared in the room. He announced to them His Easter proclamation, “Shalom!” meaning “Peace be with you.” Shalom is much more than mere absence of contention. Shalom speaks of a bond of closeness, a reconciliation between two sides. Thus Jesus inaugurates a peace that arises out of – and sometimes in the absence of – faith.
Having seen Jesus, the believers should have had a great sigh of relief and sung a hymn of praise, but instead they became terrified, frightened, and troubled. It all happened so suddenly that they were totally unprepared, even though several of them had already seen the risen Christ. The disciples were fearful that as a ghost, Jesus had come back to haunt them for their desertion of Him on the past Friday. They recall what had happened that day. They had run away and hid and, in Peter’s case, had denied the relationship with Jesus. To these disturbed and anxious disciples Jesus comes in person to share His peace in order to build up their relationship.
Jesus could have started His Easter appearance with words such as, “I want to talk to you about your behavior last Thursday night and Friday.” However, the first thing He did was to give them His blessing: “Peace be with you.” Jesus’ peace counters the disciples’ fear. He even repeated the blessing (Jn 20,19.21.26). He relates that all that has happened was according to God’s plan. “The God of peace” had raised Jesus from the dead, and there was nothing for them to fear (Heb 13,20-21). He also spoke of God’s desire that they be reconciled through His death. Because of His sacrifice on the cross, men and women could now have peace with God (Rom 5,1) and enjoy the peace of God (Phil 4,6-7). As witnesses and proclaimers of Jesus’ saving acts, the disciples are called to go out to all people and proclaim the good news of relationship, reconciliation and peace.