Sunday, April 6, is the Third Sunday of Easter (Year A, Cycle II). In St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday, April 2, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate a Mass to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.


Parish

EPriest.com offers best practices for parishes on its website.

Today’s Gospel shows how Christ used an informal question and answer session to draw the disciples closer to him on their way to Emmaus. At Immaculate Conception parish in the diocese of Manchester, N.H., the pastor, Father Marc Gagne, uses the same approach.

“We offered the first session of ‘Coffee, Cocoa and Questions’ for three weeks during this Lenten Season,” he told EPriest. “It has met with such success and enthusiasm, we are going to offer it again after Easter, and we plan to make these small three- to four-week sessions a regular part of the parish calendar.” See the EPriest website for many details.


Family

There are seven Sundays in the Easter season, making the Easter season the longest liturgical season other than ordinary time. Many families have ways of celebrating the first Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter. But how can we make the whole Easter Season special?

One idea is to institute an after-Mass Sunday activity. This makes sense at this time of year anyway, as winter gives way to spring. Our own family begins frequenting a beautiful walled-in park near our house. You can keep the Easter season in your hearts and minds by “re-branding” spring activities like park trips and nature walks.

Call it an “Easter Sunday in the park.” Start taking “Easter walks” as a family, or “Easter picnics.” You can even take an “Emmaus Walk” like the disciples in today’s Gospel.

FamiliaUSA.net offers additional Next Sunday Ideas.


Readings

Acts 2:14, 22-28; Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.


Our Take

Peter takes center stage on many Easter Sundays. On the first Easter Sunday he and John ran to the empty tomb. John got there first, but deferred to Peter, allowing him to go in first. Later, we’ll see Jesus confronting Peter by the fire (“Do you love me?” “You know I do.” “Feed my sheep!”).

Today, Peter is at the center of the disciples who say, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” We also meet Peter the Teacher in the first and second reading. These readings come as we are preparing to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to the United States on April 15. He is Peter’s successor, and we can learn from the attitude toward Peter in the readings what our attitude toward Benedict should be.

First, we should show him deference. Rather than racing ahead and forging the faith on our terms, we wait for Peter, for the Holy Father, for the Church, to pronounce on what we believe.

Second, we recognize that we are the flock that he tends. The Church’s unity comes through our adherence to the Pope.

Third, we should listen to Pope Benedict XVI to learn about Jesus just like the earliest Christians listened to Peter. We are blessed with a Holy Father who has a profound and practical way of teaching about friendship with Jesus. When he visits, there will be many opportunities to learn from him.

Pope2008.com is the Register’s papal blog. Visit it before, during and after Benedict’s visits to Washington, New York and Sydney, Australia.


The Eucharist

The Eucharist was central to Jesus’ teaching. He wanted to remain with us always in a form that would allow the most intimate connection to us all. The form he chose was bread.

To make sure that no one missed his message, he told them three ways that the Eucharist is really and truly his body and blood.


1. The Direct Approach.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. … For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink’” (John 6:53 and following).


2. The Institution of the Eucharist.

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’” (1 Corinthians 11).


3. The Demonstration.

After he rose from the dead, Jesus dramatically demonstrated that he would remain with us not in bodily form but in the Eucharist in this Sunday’s Gospel. In the town of Emmaus, the two disciples didn’t recognize him until … “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24: 30).


The Hoopeses are editorial

directors of Faith & Family

magazine (faithandfamilymag.com).