In most of the NT materials (excluding the letters), though the narrated events are set in the 30s of the first century, C.E., the accounts themselves were produced decades later, fruit of long and diverse reflection by the young Church on its experience of Jesus. Think, analogously, if after many years of discussion and reflection, we were only now beginning to distill into writing the meaning of World War 2 and the Holocaust. What both the first reading from Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel from Luke show us is what the early Christians did and what we continue to do: Name and be grounded in our experience while simultaneously correlating it with our Scriptural tradition. Both Peter (in Acts) and Jesus (in Luke’s gospel) are showing us how to ponder the staggering event of Jesus’ death: how opposition to him can be made sense of; how God continued to have events in hand, appearances notwithstanding; how the range of our own possibilities and proclivities bore on those events: Peter, surely conscious of his own failures at the time of Jesus’ death, the pair of disciples so discouraged and clueless as to be giving up the whole enterprise. Paul calls these things "our futile conduct," presumably not to blame us for our weaknesses but to remind us that the path backwards is not for us to choose. And of course the main learning is from Jesus himself: In Acts we are prompted to remember how he faced his death, which is a major portion of what we are to learn from it and to emulate; and in the gospel we have Jesus himself, patiently taking his dinner companions back through the long tradition to read for them--with them--what they had missed before. Where we stand affects radically what we see. To stand with Peter is an invitation to compunction and compassion; to stand with Jesus and other disciples is as good as it gets. As the psalm response asks, "Lord, you will show us the path of life." Barbara Green, O.P.
Third Sunday of Easter: Year A