My brothers and sisters, today's message from the First Reading [Acts 10:34, 36-43] of the Word of God is presented to us by our first Pope, Peter the First. Often, we do not think of Peter as the First Pope. Rather, we think of him as St. Peter. But in reality, it is he who received the Keys to the Kingdom of God and he was in fact the first Pontiff of the Holy Catholic Church. As the spiritual leader of the Church of Jesus Christ that was being established on earth, Saint Peter took his place of authority and began to speak to those who had assembled in the house of Cornelius.
St. Peter said, "You know the message of God sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ - he is Lord of all." For centuries, the people of God had awaited for the coming Messiah who would bring peace to the world to reconcile man with God. Peter affirmed that this had come to pass through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lord of all! Through Jesus, God the Father had fulfilled all His promises that are found in the Old Testament.
In the presence of all, Peter affirmed that he and the disciples of the Lord were witnesses to all what Jesus had done in Judea and in Jerusalem. What was said about Jesus was not fabricated stories. It was the truth. The disciples of Christ lived alongside Him and witnessed everything that He had done and said.
Peter testified that Jesus was indeed crucified and that He had died on the Holy Cross. But God raised Him from the dead on the third day. And, after His glorious resurrection, Jesus appeared to many of the disciples who were chosen by God as witnesses. In all, it is estimated that Jesus appeared to approximately 500 different persons during the days that followed His resurrection.
Now, when Jesus appeared to the disciples, it was not in a dream or in a vision. Nor was it the Spirit of Jesus who appeared to the disciples because a spirit cannot eat or drink. It was the Lord Jesus Himself, He had resurrected from the dead. In His resurrected physical body, Jesus ate and drank with the disciples.
When Jesus came to the disciples, He gave them a command. Jesus commanded the disciples to preach to the people and to testify to all that He was the One sent by God to judge the living and the dead. Jesus was the promised Messiah in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
In today's first reading, Peter finished by stating that all the prophets of the Old Testament spoke about the coming of Jesus. In their inspired writings, they testified that those who would believe in Jesus would receive the forgiveness of sin through His Most Holy Name. As the Holy Bible tells us elsewhere, Jesus gave the authority to forgive sins in His Name to His disciples. "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." [Jn. 20:23]
During today's Second Reading that was taken from the Letter of Paul to the Colossians, [Col. 3:1-4] we heard that if we have been raised with Christ, we should seek the things that are from above where Christ dwells in Heaven. We should set our minds on spiritual things, not on worldly things.
Having been born again through the Church Sacrament of Baptism, we are obligated to God to feed our souls with spiritual things. We are called to spiritually grow in shining virtues and in the fruit of the Holy Spirit so that we may gradually be transformed by the grace of God the Father to become more in the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ.
For many, their participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass on Easter Day is a stepping stone towards returning to their living faith. It is a sincere resolution... but it must not end there.
Jesus is the Lord of all! And we all need Him! On a regular basis, we need to receive the Sacrament of Confession that Jesus has instituted on earth through the apostles for the forgiveness of our sins. We need to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that Jesus has instituted on earth through the apostles as our assurance of salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the Living Bread that feeds our souls once we have been reinstated in a state of grace after having received the Sacrament of Confession.
During today's reading of the Holy Gospel, [Jn. 10:1-18] we heard how Mary Magdalene needed Jesus. She wept when she realized that His body was gone, believing that someone had stolen it. She wept because she missed the Divine presence of Jesus. She missed that inner burning desire to be near the living body of Jesus, to follow Him, to hear Him, to feel loved, to be understood and to be forgiven of sins.
Mary Magdalene was not the only one to have these feelings. All the disciples of Jesus felt that way. That is why they reacted the way they did when they heard some saying that Jesus was no longer in His tomb, that He had resurrected, or that He was appearing here and there to different disciples.
The word, "Jesus is alive!" or "I have seen the Lord!" were enough to instantly create a great spiritual hunger in the soul of the disciples of Jesus where emptiness existed because of His death. The worldly minds of the disciples suddenly became alerted to the truth. Through these words, there was a new hope. Faith was being reinstated in the Words that Jesus had spoken while He lived on earth.
Jesus is the Lord of all! It is the will of God that we all experience spiritual hunger for the Divine presence of the Lord Jesus. It is the will of God that Jesus feed our spiritual hunger so like Mary Magdalene and the disciples, we will never want to leave His Divine presence.
When we set our minds on Jesus, we do what is spiritual. While we are in this world, we are not of this world. Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, we have become new creations of the godly seed, called to obey and serve the Lord Jesus in all righteousness.
When you go home today, think of the words, "Jesus is alive!" Think of the words, "Jesus is the Lord of all!" He is your Lord as much as He is my Lord and the Lord of all the others, those who are present and those who are not. Remember that spiritual hunger that you experienced so many times in your life, during those moments when you desired that the Lord Jesus could be so close to you... (pause) and He came close to you. You felt His warmth, His joy and His peace.
Awaken your spirits so you may relive those moments, not only for a day or two, but for every day of your life until you appear before the Lord Jesus in person. While you are in this world, be of above. For Jesus is the Lord of all and by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, He can once more ignite your hearts with a burning hunger that will draw you to Him.