ON THIS THIRD SUNDAY OF THE EASTER SEASON we are reminded of the importance of the Gospel phrase: “You are witnesses of these things.” We can easily see in today’s Gospel how Jesus was putting the final touches in the preparation of his apostles to take his Gospel to the world. He had already spent three years with them, calling them to Him, teaching them, sending them out to preach in His name, to cure the sick, to raise the dead. He had already shown them the example of service. He had already ordained them priests and given them the ability to bring down his body and blood to the altars on Holy Thursday. He had already given them the ability to forgive and retain sins on Easter Sunday evening. He had already shown them that the model to follow, living for God and dying out of love for God and for others. In today’s Gospel, we see how Jesus finishes His preparations. He started by wishing them peace again, eating in front of them and showing them His wounds so that they would know that they were not hallucinating, but that Jesus really had risen. Then St. Luke tells us that Jesus did two very important things. First, he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, so that they would understand that “everything written about (him) in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Jesus had to do this because the apostles had not gotten the connections Jesus had talked about before, which now, after his resurrection, they would finally be able to understand. Now they would understand the real meaning of the existence of Adam and Eve and the consequences of original sin. Now they would get the real meaning of what happened to Abel, killed by his brother Cain. Abel was a type, a forerunner of Jesus who, though innocent, was killed by his brother. Now they would be able to grasp the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, the only Son, who carried the wood for the sacrifice, and who the Lamb was that God would provide, Jesus, the Lamb of God. Now they would be able to understand the real exodus, the real Passover, which wasn’t just from Egypt through the Red Sea to the promised land, but from this life, through death, into eternal life. Jesus opened their minds to understand how all of Sacred Scripture had pointed to Him. Just as Jesus did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, to whom Jesus said, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Jesus, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” We’re told in that scene that the disciples hearts were burning as they felt incredible consolation that comes from contact with the Truth, who is Jesus. Jesus continues to open up the Sacred Scriptures for us at every Mass, teaching us in the Gospel. Jesus concluded this first thing by summarizing and giving the apostles their full mission: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Their mission was to go and witness to Jesus, to preach about Jesus, about His suffering out of love, about His resurrection and about the call to repentance through the forgiveness of sins. And we see how well they had listened to Jesus and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, followed His marching orders. The question for us today and every day is simply this: How are each of us doing when it comes to listening to Jesus, at following Him, at embracing His way of life, at being “doers of the word, not hearers only” (James 1:22)? When we stray and sin, do we seek Christ’s mercy and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation? All of us are called – indeed invited by Christ – when Jesus says “follow me.” How good of a job are we doing at following Him? It’s never too late, folks, to do a turn around – to undergo that level of conversion of mind and heart, to turn away from the ways of the world and instead embrace the way of Christ. And once we have embraced the way of Christ, to share in Christ’s saving mission to share his way with others. That is how we come to know Him, and to love Him – Christ our Lord, Savior and Redeemer. A piece of sage advice is given to us in our second reading from the First Letter of Saint John when he writes: “The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.” Let’s think about this today, and take action on how we can show greater love for Christ by following Him, living our lives in witness to Him, and sharing in His saving mission.