April 20, 2017 - You Are Witnesses of These Things
Thursday in the Octave of Easter Father Robert Presutti, LC
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the 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 that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, it is really I. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Messiah 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you in heaven forever. I need to reflect more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others to heaven with me.
Petition: Lord Jesus, bring me your Easter peace. Let me share in your victory over sin and death. May I live for you alone.
1. The Disciples' Mixed and Changing Reaction to the Resurrection: The Gospel narratives manifest the disciples' volatile situation. They want to believe, but lack confidence. They experience the sincere joy of seeing Christ resurrected, but have not completely overcome their cautious disbelief. The two from Emmaus recount their encounter, and Christ himself appears to them. Yet even when he is right there in front of them, they are slow to believe. Our Lord's patient, accepting attitude is encouraging. He did not come for a meal, but takes a piece of fish to help them believe. We all have our moments of light and generosity, and our moments of sluggishness and inner resistance. I want to believe, but because it implies letting go of my false securities, I need detachment and purification. Christ aids my weakness by his closeness.
2. It Is I Myself: Christ is not a ghost. He is not a figment of my imagination, nor the result of my wishful thinking––something too good to be true. Christ is more real than my fears; his grace is stronger than my weakness, more powerful than sin and death itself. As the disciples have mixed reactions to his presence, he invites them to get a grip on themselves and reflect in faith. Reflection and contemplation in faith always lead to the truth of Christ. Am I living in an illusory world of my own making because I'm not reflecting in faith on the realities and experiences of my life? All I need to do is overcome my incredulity with faith and trust in the Christ.
3. Thus It Was Written: The Cross was not a mistake. Christ does not see it as a necessary evil. Rather, "it was written". In other words, it could not have been any other way. Without the Cross there is no resurrection. Without the Resurrection there is no experience of the fullness of life, no hope for things to come. My life too has its own experience of Christ's cross. What for me might be an unexpected twist, an obstacle or a problem, is for the Lord a means of purifying my heart and bringing me to the Resurrection.
Conversation with Christ: At times Lord, I fear I am seeing a ghost, just like the disciples. Your plan and will are so far beyond me that at times I have difficulty distinguishing my own wishful thinking or false hopes from your will and your call. Help me to find in you the only source of my hopes and the One who will never fail me.
Resolution: Today I will speak of Christ's resurrection and the hope which it brings us.