How to Untrouble Our Hearts

User’s Guide to Sunday, April 15

An altar painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Francesco de Rhoden inside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome.
An altar painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Francesco de Rhoden inside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome. (photo: 2015 photo, Bohumil Petrik/CNA)

Sunday, April 15, is the Third Sunday of Easter (Year B). Mass Readings: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48.

“Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38). These questions of Jesus to the disciples when he appeared after his resurrection could be addressed to us, as well. What troubles you? Problems in relationships, financial worries, disturbing news about the Church and the world, loved ones who seem trapped in destructive patterns, sickness or grief over loss. These are all experiences that at times leave our hearts troubled and our minds confused.

The disciples had seen Jesus arrested, tortured and put to death. Even though they had heard him predict his resurrection, they did not understand because they had not yet received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He asks them why their hearts are troubled, not because he does not know what is in their hearts, but to invite them to ponder their own belief or unbelief.

They did have faith, for as soon as they overcame their shock at seeing the Risen Lord in their midst, their fear was transformed into joy and amazement. Jesus reminds them that all that he had predicted has come to pass, and he renews the call to go forth to all the nations to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sin in his name.

The gifts of Jesus’ presence among his followers and of the peace that comes from his resurrection enable us to pass from worry to confidence, from fear to joy. Jesus did not right all the wrongs of a broken world. Although he did teach and heal and feed the crowds, he did not eradicate all error or sickness, nor all hunger or poverty. What he did was come among us, enter into our humanity, take upon himself the weight of all our sins, and promise to remain among us forever in his body the Church and especially in the gift of the Eucharist.

In today’s first and second readings, the troubling reality of sinfulness stands starkly before us. Perhaps the most distressing of our worries is that, try as we might, we fail time and time again to overcome the pride and selfishness within ourselves. Peter reminds his hearers that they had put to death the very Author of Life. His accusation, however, is coupled with an admission that they acted out of ignorance. Hoping in the redemption won by Christ, he calls his hearers to repent and be converted and assures them that their sins can be wiped away. Likewise, John encourages his listeners to avoid sin, but he also reminds them that when we have sinned we can trust in Jesus as our Advocate with the Father.

Today is a good day to examine our troubled hearts before the Lord in prayer. We can hand over each trouble to the Risen Lord, who remains in our midst. As we exchange the Sign of Peace at Mass, we can recall that “Peace be with you” was the message of Jesus to his fearful apostles, and we can say within ourselves, “I do accept your gift of peace, Lord, and as my fears arise again, I will keep placing them in your pierced hands and Sacred Heart.”

Dominican Sister Mary Madeline Todd is a member of the

Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, Tennessee.

She is assistant professor of theology at Aquinas College in Nashville

and also serves through retreats, public speaking and writing.