THE RESURRECTION OF KNOWLEDGE AND FAITH HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

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Once upon a time, a little boy was taking an evening walk with his uncle. Suddenly they came across a faulty bridge which had a flowing river underneath but the framework of the bridge was shaking profusely. The uncle sensing that the boy was getting frightened asked him to hold his hand but the boy said: “no uncle! Be the one to hold me!” The uncle was surprised at his answer and then asked him if there was a difference between the two: holding and being held. The boy turned to him and said: “if I hold you and I happen to miss a step, there is a possibility that I might let go your hands because I am not strong, but if you hold me and I miss a step you will still be holding me because you are stronger than me”. It was at this point that the uncle understood what the boy meant and how knowledgeable he was on that. The uncle had the physical power but the boy had the power of knowledge of how to use that power and that made him more powerful.

The quote “ipsa scientia potestas est” (knowledge is power) is widely attributed to Francis Bacon and it remains a statement of fact. From the story above, we saw that the little boy displayed more power than his uncle with his knowledge. On the other hand, ignorance is said to be a disease which could also be highly contagious and destructive.

From the First Reading today (Acts 3:13-15.17-19b), we saw the apostle Peter remarking boldly that those who condemned our Lord Jesus Christ the righteous one, did so on account of  ignorance. This ignorance is actually based on disconnection from God which entails being cut off from the knowledge and love of God. The prophet Hosea had already indicated that God’s people perish for lack of knowledge (4:6). Peter’s testimony remains very vivid. According to him, the people acted ignorantly by refusing to accept the verdict of Pilate that our Lord was innocent of the accusations against him.

We often act ignorantly by our ingratitude to God like some of the Jews who were ungrateful to the one who came to save them. It is also a fact that such ignorance does not pretext an excuse. For any relationship to be worthwhile, there will be need for those involved to have tenable knowledge of themselves. God created us first to know Him, then love Him and also to serve Him. Often we proclaim love or service without prior knowledge. We have to know God first before we can love Him and serve Him. That knowledge is indispensable.

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ also presupposes the resurrection of knowledge. This also means the destruction of ignorance. The Prophet Isaiah captured this very well in his description of what will take place on the mountain of the Lord. Among other things he said: “on this mountain the Lord of hosts will remove the veil that is covering the people (Isaiah 25:7). The veil or cloud that is being referred here is that of ignorance.

The events that trailed the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ clearly showed this veil of ignorance which our Lord finally removed from them when he explained the scriptures to them. This directly points to the fact that we can only know God truly and deeply through His word. St. Paul writing to Timothy explained the purpose of the scripture (the word of God). According to him all scripture is inspired and designed for instruction, correction and for training in righteousness (2 Tim.3:16-17). For the psalmist, the word of God is a like a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ also marks the resurrection of faith. We saw the height of fear that overtook the apostles before they met the risen Lord.  They were so frightened that they had to hide at the upper room with doors and windows locked (John 20:19). Fear is the direct opposite of faith. Whenever we live in fear, faith is automatically deactivated. This was the situation with the apostles. They were lounging in utter disbelief. It is reasonable to say here that Thomas was not the only person that was in doubt, he was actually the last to believe as he was also the last to see the risen Lord. Hence the resurrection marked a transition from doubt to belief from fear to faith.

Today we also identify the resurrection of the apostolic community and of the communion with our Lord Jesus Christ. According to the Gospel today, the apostles were still stuck in disbelief and bewilderment until our Lord ate a broiled fish with them and in their presence. In fact, it was after that communion that he opened their minds to the scriptures and then they believed. Hence the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ brought about the revival, reinvigoration and resurrection of the apostolic community. The same way, individuals, families and communities should also be revitalized by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.   

It is also the resurrection of divine forgiveness. All those who took part in the arrest, passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ were forgiven even before his final breathe: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The resurrection is thus a confirmation of that. He thus said today: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached” (Luke 24:46-47).

As we march into the third week of Easter let us be attentive to the fact that we need to rise. We need to rise from the darkness of ignorance into the light of the knowledge of God. We need to rise from fear into faith, we need to rise from disunity to community, and we need to rise from the past gory state sinfulness into the future glory of divine forgiveness.

I wish you a more glorious week ahead and continue to shout alleluia….!

Fr. Bonny

(fatherbonny@hotmail.com)

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