First Reading Commentary
One has to admire the words of Saint Peter in this Reading. He makes it perfectly clear to the hearers of this message the circumstances that led to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is reproaching them for the choices they made but at the same time shows compassion for them by giving them an excuse, knowing that they “acted out of ignorance.” He also offers them added comfort by telling them that the wrong that was done has also been undone by the Resurrection of Jesus to which Peter assures them he was a witness. His final assurance to them makes it clear that even though their behavior was sinful, what transpired was “announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets.” Saint Peter knows very well how troubled the hearts of his hearers are as he himself denied Jesus three times; but no one is more qualified to offer compassion and comfort than Peter as He received that very same compassion and forgiveness from His Lord and Savior; and as Chief Shepherd of the Church, Peter must be an example of forgiveness and compassion.
Jesus is the One Who restored our relationship with God. Even though we all sin, the wrong we do can also be undone if we repent. During each day of our lives we should be making efforts to achieve that perfect conversion and conform ourselves completely to the will of God. We may not succeed before we breathe our last but each day can be one step closer. And if we don’t succeed before the end of natural life, there is purgatory which is yet another example of God’s mercy.
Second Reading Commentary
As a priest, Saint John surely understands his role as a spiritual Father when he addresses us as his children.
“I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin”; the point of this opening line is not to suggest that by reading it we will never sin again. It is more for encouragement so that every effort is made to avoid sin and to know that even when we do fall we have an Advocate Who is able to pick us up again. Although committing sin is probably inevitable, the effort to avoid it expresses love for the Lord and a sincere gratitude for all He has done.
The Blessed Virgin Mary as well as all the angels and saints are also called advocates, but they are advocates of intercession who plead on our behalf to the One Who is the only Advocate of redemption.
“The way we may be sure that we know Him is to keep His commandments,” or perhaps another way of expressing it is to say that what we know is that we love our Lord; therefore, why would we ever purposely disobey His Commandments?
The ancient Fathers of the Church were convinced that the words “breaking of bread” was Saint Luke’s way of expressing the Eucharist and that Jesus consecrated the bread and gave it to the two disciples and thus they received the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus 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; and more than likely they thought it was a ghost who had come to deceive them. Seeing apparitions is quite common in the New Testament and Saint Augustine said that it cannot be denied that there are occasional apparitions of angels, saints and souls of the dead.
Jesus showed them His Hands and His Feet because He knew that this would be sufficient to convince them of His Resurrection. They gave Him a piece of baked fish; He took it and ate it in front of them not because He was hungry, but only as added evidence that His Body truly did rise from the dead. As if seeing Him and watching Him eat was not enough for them, Jesus puts the icing on the cake by explaining to them everywhere that Scripture points to His Resurrection as well as reminding them of all the times He told them personally that this day would come.
The words “beginning from Jerusalem” suggest that the disciples were to preach the Good News to the Jews first, and afterwards to all nations.
Finally, when we read the Gospels and the New Testament we can see how Jesus transforms and renews these men called “apostles”. He took these men, who were not very learned, and turned them into great instructors of the faith. He took these fearful men who ran away when Jesus was arrested, and changed them into great men of unshakeable faith as most of them were martyred because of their courage, love and obedience to our Lord. These gifts of transformation and renewal are available to all of us. “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).