Thursday of Easter Octave
(Click here for readings)
(Click here for readings)
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?”
Before the two disciples, encountered on the road to Emmaus, could finish their story, the Lord appeared in their midst.
Why does Jesus come and go so often after His resurrection? Why doesn’t He stay the night with His followers?
He stood in their midst. His appearances no longer need to be lengthy. His words no longer need to be convincing. The Apostles have received everything. Now it’s time for them to go throughout the world and preach the Good News. The Lord’s appearances are now only to reassure them. It is to complete their formation.
His message to them (and to us) is very simple: I have risen. There is nothing to fear. There should be no holding back. Everything I said, everything I did has been confirmed by my Father and you are witnesses to this. I am alive, more so than ever before.
Yesterday I spoke to our 8th graders regarding their upcoming Confirmation. I asked one child why he was getting confirmed. I was surprised at how well he knew the answer: I have come to believe that Jesus is God. It sounded a lot like Peter’s confession to the Lord: “We have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
It is no understatement to state that the resurrection is everything! In other words, with Jesus’ Resurrection stands or falls Christian faith. St. Paul writes: “For if the dead do not rise, neither has Christ risen; and if Christ has not risen, vain is your faith, for you are still in your sins. Hence they also who have fallen asleep in Christ, have perished. If with this life only in view we have had hope in Christ, we are of all men the most to be pitied” (I Cor 15:17-19).
Yep! He’s right! But thankfully, Christ did rise from the dead and I can courageously live what He preached and die as He died, for one day I will rise and live with Him forever. Hence, there is only one person that I should ever bow down to, kneel to, lift my arms up to, give my love to, honor with all life and adore with all my strength, all my soul and all my heart, and that is the Lord of life: Jesus Christ, who continues to amaze me every single day and night of my life.
Peace be with you. Your sins are forgiven. The past is the past. The dark nights are over. The good shall be blessed. The humble shall stand tall. The meek shall be rewarded. The dead shall rise. It’s clear from Scripture that the Lord did not want to reveal Himself to everyone. After all, throughout His life He only taught a small group of men and women and spent most of His time with a small group of people. Yes, He loved the entire world yet He spent His entire life in a very small part of the world. That was enough. We should not be surprised that the Resurrection would only be revealed to a small group of people who would eventually represent Him throughout the four corners of the world.
If you think about it, the Lord didn’t wait inside His tomb to ask Peter and John what took them so long to come to Him and see Him. It should be abundantly clear to us that we can believe Him without seeing Him and that the only requirement to follow Him is one thing only: faith.
The Lord, by making another appearance to His Apostles, encourages them to get to know Him, read and reread about Him in Sacred Scripture, and to open their hearts and minds to Him. He tells his embarrassed and humiliated followers to have no fears or worries; to not be troubled, dejected or downcast. He actually says to them, “Peace be with you.” What He is truly saying is: I may come and go, but I am always with you.
The past has been raised and perfected. The world has changed. I have changed. He makes all things new again.
Resolution: Do not be afraid.