Hearing the News
Opening Question: What's the newest and hottest thing today? How did you hear about it?
First Reading: Acts 3:13-15, 17-18
Before there was the internet and computers, before there was televisions or radios, before there were newspapers or printed books, few people knew how to read. Most people had to hear the news from someone who announced it in market places. Kings would send criers to announce their arrival. Merchants advertised by shouting to the people. Even religious leaders would preach in the market places.
After Jesus died, Peter and the other apostles hid from the Jewish leaders. They hoped they wouldn't be arrested and crucified like Jesus. But then the Holy Spirit turned them from cowards into courageous speakers. On the day Holy Spirit changed the apostles, Peter announced the Good News of Jesus to the crowds. This is what he said:
The God of our ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, gave his servant Jesus glory! This was the same person you arrested and rejected before Governor Pilate. Even when Pilate wanted to release him! Jesus was holy and good, but you rejected him. Instead, you wanted a murderer release in his place. Jesus leads everyone to life, but you killed him. So, God raised him from the dead. We are eye witnesses to what happened.
Now, my friends, I know that you and your leaders didn't really know what you were doing. But, through the prophets in the Bible, God showed everyone his Christ had to suffer and die. And this is what he did. So change your lives! Turn back to God! That way, God will wipe all your sins away!
Peter communicated the Good News of Jesus. The leaders and the people who were at the trial of Jesus condemned an innocent man. But God changed that condemnation into freedom. He raised Jesus from the dead. If God can do that, he could give Peter's listeners the power to change their lives around. He offers us the same. All we have to do is say "Yes!" to God.
Bridging Question: Have you ever seen something really strange? What was it? Why did you think it was strange?
Gospel: Luke 24:35-48
The two men who walked toward Emmaus returned to Jerusalem so they could talk to Jesus' followers. The men explained what happened on the way to Emmaus and how they recognized Jesus when he broke bread with them.
While they were discussing what happened, Jesus stood among them. "Peace be with you," he said. The followers of Jesus were so scared when Jesus appeared, they thought they had seen a ghost! "Why are you so upset? Why do you think such things?" Jesus said to them. "Look at my hands and feet. Touch me. See, it's really me! A ghost doesn't have flesh and bones as you see I have." After he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. But they were so filled with joy and wonder, they just couldn't believe it was true. So Jesus asked them, "Do you have anything to eat here?" They gave him a piece of cooked fish. He took the fish and ate it in front of everyone.
Then Jesus said to his followers, "When I lived among you, I told you what would happen, so everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms would come true." Then Jesus helped his followers really understand the Bible. "It is written in the Bible that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day," Jesus continued. "The Bible also tells us that a message would be preached everywhere in the Christ's name: 'God will give people a chance to turn their lives around. If they do, God will forgive them.' This message will first be preached in Jerusalem. All of you are witnesses to everything that has happened."
Ben thought he was a tough kid. He had seen many strange things: ugly dogs, walls with so much graffiti on them you couldn't read them, and every scary movie you could imagine. None of those strange things seemed to bother him. In fact, he bragged he never had nightmares! He belittled other kids who had disturbing dreams. He had courage. The other kids were just scared.
One night, that all changed. He went to bed like he did every night. After his prayers, Ben quickly fell asleep. He began to dream of a great light that blinded him to everything else. But the light was moving closer and closer to him at an ever faster rate. In fear and wonder, Ben froze in place. He felt he just couldn't move! Was the light a train that would run over him? He felt the sweat on his forehead.
Suddenly, Ben found himself in a place so dark, he couldn't even see his hands. He felt lost and alone. Instead of the warm sweat on his forehead, Ben felt very cold. Then he felt something slowly wrap around his leg. At first it was loose, then it tightened it grip. Ben was being pulled down farther and farther into the darkness. Ben felt helpless! He would grab onto something, but he couldn't feel his own hands! He was being pulled further and further down into a black hole.
Then, Ben saw his room. It was nighttime and everything was normal. "Whew!" he thought "What a relief! I'm back home safe." Suddenly, the room began to move, shake violently. "An earthquake!" shot through Ben's mind. The adrenalin shot through his body as he grabbed onto anything to ride out the shock waves. He was being bounced up and down, round and round...
"Wake up, Ben," his mother whispered as she gently shook him. "You've having a nightmare."
Half asleep, Ben mumbled, "I don't have nightmares, Mom." Ben sat up and hugged his mother tight. "I don't have nightmares."
"You're trembling, Ben" his mother told her son. "Tell me about your dream."
Ben told his mother about the great light. "Oh," his mother replied. "That was probably the search light from the new mall. The light was so bright, your father and I couldn't even see the TV." Ben's grip on his mother began to loosen.
Next, Ben told his mother about the darkness and the strange thing that wrapped around his leg, pulling him down. "Look," his mother said as she pointed to the blanket that wrapped itself around Ben's leg. Ben relaxed a little more.
"What about the earthquake, Mom? It was so real!" Ben exclaimed.
"Ben, you were screaming so much, I had to shake you to wake you up. There was no earthquake," his mother replied.
For a moment, Ben was silent, trying to put everything together. "I understand now, Mom," Ben said, as he curled back down into bed.
His mother unwrapped the blanket and tucked Ben in, and kissed him. "Good night, Ben" his mother said.
"Good night, Mom," Ben replied. As he began to fall asleep again, Ben understood everyone gets nightmares. Kids who had nightmares were not the weak, lacking in courage. They were just normal. As he fell into sleep, he promised himself he would never criticize others for their nightmares again.
When the disciples saw the risen Jesus, they were so afraid, it must have felt like a nightmare. They were so scared, they couldn't move. This wasn't a ghost. The Jesus they saw die on the cross appeared suddenly and had a body! What was going on?
Like Ben, the disciples needed an explanation. Jesus reminded them about the things he said when he lived with them. He told them he would die and he would rise again. Then, Jesus pointed out the parts of the Bible that talked about his death and resurrection. Things began to make sense to the disciples, in the same way Ben's mom helped him understand his experience. With this understanding, the disciples could go out and share the Good News of Jesus with others. He who died is truly alive! And he did it all for me!
Closing Reflection: If you were with the disciples when Jesus appeared, how would you feel? Would you be afraid of full of joy? Why?