Third Sunday of Easter Homily Year B

When a Fish fostered Faith

“To that fact we are the witnesses” (Acts)

“You are witnesses to this” (Lk)

            To sell fish, a fisherman painted a signboard reading, “Fresh Fish is Sold Here.” To disturb business, his foe said, “You don’t sell stale fish, do you? So, why write ‘fresh’?” Agreeing, the fisherman painted a new signboard with just: “Fish is Sold Here.” Once again, his foe suggested, “Obviously, you’re selling fish here, not there!” Nodding his agreement, the fisherman went back and returned with a new signboard – “Fish is Sold.” Now, the foe appeared a third time and said, “Anybody with eyes will see that you’re selling fish, not meat! Wipe off the word ‘fish’!” The gullible fisherman was so confused that he wanted to make still another signboard, forgetting that he was selling fish! if there is something one really believes in beyond doubt, then, one must cling to that truth even if people offer advice, suggestions and even threats to change one’s beliefs. I’d imagine that the frightened fishermen-followers of Jesus were in the same predicament as the fisherman of our story as they sought to comprehend Jesus’ life-death-resurrection, and, more importantly, to proclaim Him. Today’s readings help us to trace out their ‘faith-journey’ from doubt to faith, from dread to fearlessness.


            The ‘Acts of the Apostles’ is a continuation of Luke’s Gospel; and, today’s gospel highlights an ‘apparition scene’ (in continuation with the apparition of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus that strengthens Peter 8: co.’s belief in Jesus’ resurrection. Experiences like this become the foundation for Peter’s fearless preaching in today’s first reading. Let’s begin with a little detail in the gospel, namely, the fish that Jesus ate!

            It seems strange, but theologians of yore spent sleepless nights trying to figure out what happened to the fish that Jesus ate! Was Jesus’ resurrected body capable of digesting fish? Obviously, instead of inquiring into the ‘what’, we should ask ‘why’ did Jesus eat the fish? Three reasons seem probable: (3) Jesus wanted the disciples to realize that the risen, resplendent Lord was that same crucified Jesus, and thus there was need for bodily identification, (b) to be a true ‘witness’ one had to visibly and tangibly get first-hand experience, and Jesus wanted his disciples to be bold witnesses, and (c) the act of ‘eating’ is Eucharistic and sacramental, dealing with fellowship and forgiveness. Jesus wanted his friends to know that he had forgiven them and they would be instrumental in drawing future generations to him.

            The foregoing reasons seem validated in the first two readings. Notice how in the ‘Acts’ Peter boldly declares, “We are witnesses,” just as the Gospel ends with: “You are witnesses to this.” Secondly, this witnessing is not some figment of the followers’ imagination, but is based on seeing, hearing, touching: “Touch me and see for yourself!” says Jesus. Finally, the ‘second reading from John’s second letter speaks about Jesus who takes away the sins of the world. Peter too calls his hearers “to repent and turn to God.” In Christ, truly, we experience forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation.

            The devil once wanted to deceive a holy woman and appeared to her disguised as the risen Lord. “I’ve come to save you, my child!” said the devil. The woman looked up and said, “If you are Christ, show me your wounds!” At this the devil replied, “I’ve come from heaven; in my glory!” The woman cried, “Get away, Satan! A Christ without wounds is no Christ!”

            The risen Lord appears to us, today, glorified, but marked with the wounds of his passion. He wants you and me to be his witnesses, here, now! Like that fisherman’s signboard, our lives should loudly proclaim, “Jesus is Saviouri Here! Now!” Witnessing brings perils, persecutions and even death. In 2006, Afghan Abdul Rahman (4 l) was convicted to death for converting to Christianity. He refused to disown Christ despite the death sentence. Peter died witnessing. And, martyrs like Rahman are ready to die for their faith, today. What about you and me?


Reading 1 ACTS 3:13-15, 17-19
Peter said to the people:
“The God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
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.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
Responsorial Psalm PS 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
R. (7a) Lord, let your face shine on us.
R. Alleluia.
When I call, answer me, O my just God,
you who relieve me when I am in distress;
have pity on me, and hear my prayer!
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
R. Alleluia.
Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one;
the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
R. Alleluia.
O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
You put gladness into my heart.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
R. Alleluia.
As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep,
for you alone, O LORD,
bring security to my dwelling.
R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
R. Alleluia.
Reading 2 1 JN 2:1-5A
My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But 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 whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
Alleluia CF. LK 24:32
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us;
make our hearts burn while you speak to us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 24:35-48
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“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.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus 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 preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

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