"Jesus Is a Propriation for Our Sins"

Third Sunday of Easter Year B

18 April 2021


Third Sunday of Easter Year B

18 April 2021


“Jesus, a Propitiation for Our Sins”


“Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts 3:19


In this the Third Sunday of Easter, we continue to feel the joy of Christ’s Resurrection. For us in this great miracle, Christ’s greatest, we see the truth that we should all arise at the time of the General Judgment in our glorified bodies. This is the great Easter Message: “If we die with Him, we will rise with him.” This brings us to the most important teaching of today’s readings which is the forgiveness of sins. This, of course, is the reason why Jesus sacrificed Himself on the Cross for us. He was a propitiation for our sins when He atoned for our sins. St. Peter tells the Jews this in his sermon before the Sanhedrin in today’s First Reading (Acts 3:13-15, 17-19): But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” Acts 3:18 All the Jewish people knew the scriptures and were familiar with the prophet Isaiah who told of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant of Yahweh: Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. Is. 53:4-5 St. Peter does not condemn the Jews, but he offers them a chance to repent when he tells them that they did all this out of ignorance: And now, brethren, I know that you did it through ignorance, as did also your rulers.” Acts 3:17


“Christ’s Redemptive Suffering”

In today’s Gospel (Luke 24:35-48), Jesus appears after His death to two of His disciples on their way to Emmaus. At first, when Jesus started walking with them, they did not recognize Him, but then at the “breaking of bread,” (Lk. 24:35) they see that it is Jesus to whom they have been speaking. Jesus then disappears and the two disciples hasten back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles. While the disciples are speaking to the apostles, Jesus appears to them and says: “...Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.” Lk. 24: 36. To prove that He is not a ghost, Jesus asks for some food: And when he had eaten before them, taking the remains, he gave to them.” Lk. 24:43. Then Jesus tells them again why He had to suffer: “And he said to them: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day.” Lk 24:46 Then Jesus tells them the most astonishing of doctrines that they need to preach penance and the forgiveness of sins: “And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Lk. 24:47 Needless to say, the apostles were all surprised at seeing Jesus alive, and now they had to hear the revelation that they must now preach a doctrine of the forgiveness of sins. Who could imagine a leader dying for His persecutors and then forgiving them for their sins? This is why St. Peter and the apostles preached this new doctrine before the Sanhedrin: “Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts. 3:19


“Jesus, a Propriation for Our Sins.”

This new doctrine of the forgiveness of sins is the message of the beloved apostle, St. John, in his First Epistle. He knew so well what Jesus had taught and that is why he tells us in his Epistle that we have an advocate in Jesus who will plead for us before the Father: “My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. I Jn. 2:1-2 In these few sentences, St. John summarizes the whole message of the Cross; Jesus becomes our propitiation (offering) to the Father to make up for our sins because He “was bruised for our sins.” Is. 53:5


Gnostics and the Denial of Sin

Ironically, even after the incredible suffering of Jesus in His passion for our sins, there are those, supposedly enlightened ones, who deny being a sinner and needing redemption. St. John condemns such Gnostics who, with their higher knowledge, deny that they sin and need redemption: “He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. I John 2:4 These Gnostics thought that they had superior knowledge and the commandments did not pertain to them. For St. John, only the true follower of Christ keeps the commandments: “And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments.” I Jn. 2:3 Many people today deny that they commit sin; Arch. Fulton Sheen said, “The sin of our time is that there is no sin.” Whether we really want to admit or not, all of us know when we do something wrong. God has written the natural law on our hearts. Our conscience tells us what we have done wrong! “A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” The whole Easter Message is one of joy because Jesus has conquered death and sin and opened the gates of heaven for all who admit their sinfulness and are sorry for their sins. How blessed we are to know that Jesus has become our propitiation for our sins and we are forgiven if we are sorry for our sins: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day: And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Lk. 24:46-47