Christ Our Advocate Dispels Ignorance and, Restores Our Faith
Readings: (1st: Acts 3, 13-15, 17-19 Ps 4, 2-9; 2nd: 1Jn 1 Jn 2, 1-5; Gos Jh 24: 35-48)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today, the third Sunday of Easter, the church invites us to celebrate the living Christ our advocate. He casts away our ignorance and strengthens our faith. Ignorance and pride deprives us of many blessings from God, while wisdom, humility and repentance increase our faith and attract many blessings from God. The major problems of the Jewish leaders who crucified Christ were ignorance and pride. Ignorance because they thought they knew and were working for God, when actually they were against Him; and pride because, they remained stubborn instead of repenting and coming to Christ the advocate.
One important point which all the readings of this Sunday have in common is the relationship between ignorance and faith. Peter observed and addressed the ignorance of the Jewish leaders. Hence he addressed his audience: “It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just…Now brothers, I know that neither you nor your leaders had an idea of what you were doing.” They were searching for God and waiting for the fulfillment of his promises. However, due to ignorance, they rejected and killed Him when He eventually came to them. This is also what John refers to in the second reading, when he said: “Anyone who says I know him and does not keep his commandments is a lair refusing to admit the truth.” Ignorance (especially of God’s ways and word), gives us a false impression that we know God and are doing His will, when the contrary is actually the case. It makes us think we are comfortable where we are. Also, like the Jewish leaders who crucified Christ and the Jihadists, it makes us think that we are fighting for God when we are actually doing the contrary. We should be different, because Paul tells us that: “The time of ignorance is over.”(Acts 17, 30-31). It is therefore important that we constantly seek divine counsel and wisdom from Christ our helper and advocate. Most importantly, instead of being proud, we must constantly repent and receive forgiveness. This is why John assures us today that: “We have an advocate before the Father who is Just, he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, not only ours but the sins of the whole world…”
In the gospel, Jesus had to strengthen the faith of his disciples and apostles by opening their minds to understand the scriptures. The mistake we often make is the presumption that it was only Thomas that doubted the resurrection of Christ. However, Jesus being God did not make this same mistake because he understood very well that most of his disciples doubted. Thomas doubted and expressed it, while others pretended that they believed. This is the most difficult situation. Jesus knew this, and this was why he had to eat, drink and even allowed them to touch Him. One major problem that Jesus identified in his disciples was ignorance. Even though they were with him, heard him preach, and do miracles yet, they remained ignorant of who he really was and especially, what the scriptures said about Him. Ignorance was actually a major reason why they lacked faith in Him. Are we different today? This is why St Jerome reminds us that: “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Ignorance of Christ, his power, his promises and, of course his words is a major stumbling block to faith. Jesus realized this and had to help them as the gospel of Luke tells us today: “He opened their minds to scriptures…and he said to them, ‘so you see how it was written…” It is only when we are delivered from ignorance that our faith can become strong enough to witness to the resurrected Christ. This was why Paul constantly prayed: “May the Lord open the eyes of your minds.” We are in constant need of help in order to be freed from ignorance and, for our faith to grow. So we must daily invite Jesus our advocate and the Holy Spirit to help us especially, when we read the scriptures. Therefore, let us pray with the psalmist today: “Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord.” This is because, the light His face illumines, will cast away the shadows of ignorance from our minds, increases our faith and finally, make us firm witnesses to the resurrected Christ.
Peace be with you!!