Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
There is a true story in Ripley’s Believe It or Not about a judge in Yugoslavia who had an unfortunate accident. He was “electrocuted” when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. She called for help. Friends and neighbors, police–everyone showed up. He was pronounced dead and taken to the funeral home. The local radio picked up the story and broadcast it all over the air. In the middle of the night, the judge regained consciousness. When he realized where he was, he rushed over to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified. The first thought of the judge was to phone his wife and reassure her, using the funeral home phone. But he got no further than, “Hello darling, it’s me,” when she screamed and fainted. He tried calling a couple of the neighbors, but they all thought it was some sort of a sick prank. He even went so far as to go to the homes of several friends, but they were all sure he was a ghost and slammed the door in his face. Finally, he was able to call a friend in the next town who hadn’t heard of his death. This friend was able to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus had to convince the disciples that he wasn’t a ghost. He had to dispel their doubts and their fears. He showed them his hands and his feet. He invited them to touch him and see that he was real. And he even ate a piece of cooked fish with them–all to prove that he was alive and not a ghost or spirit. He stood there before them, as real and alive as he had been over the past three years. Today’s Gospel leads us to reflect on Faith, doubts and crises. It shows us how Jesus convinced his disciples of his Resurrection and how he commissioned them to be his witnesses throughout the world. He prepared them to receive God’s power through the coming descent of the Holy Spirit upon them, and he commanded them to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
The common theme of today’s readings is a challenge to our Faith in the living presence of the Risen Lord. That Faith should strengthen our Hope in His promises, call us to true repentance for our sins and lead us to bearing witness to Christ by our works of Charity. Does our Faith do that for us? The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes how Peter fulfills the mission of preaching Jesus. He asks the Jews to turn toward God so that their sins may be wiped away. In the second reading, John tells us that true knowledge and love of God consists in acknowledging that Jesus is the expiation for our sins. We make that acknowledgement daily by bearing witness to Him in our lives and by obeying His commandments.
We need to share the apostles’ “Upper Room Experience” in the Holy Mass: The same Jesus who, in the Upper Room of the Cenacle, prepared the disciples for their preaching and witnessing mission, is present with us in the Eucharistic celebration. In the “Liturgy of the Word of God,” Jesus speaks to us. In the “Liturgy of the Bread and Wine,” Jesus becomes our spiritual food and drink. Thus, today’s Gospel scene is repeated every Sunday on our parish altars. Like the early disciples, we come together to repent of our sins, express our gratitude for blessings received, listen to God’s word and offer our lives to God along with our petitions and His gifts of consecrated Bread and Wine. We also share in the spiritual food Jesus supplies, thus gaining the strength necessary for sharing Christ’s message with the entire world, mainly by living transparent Christian lives. Jesus needs us as witnesses to continue his mission. Jesus needs Spirit-filled followers to be his eyes, ears and hands and to bear witness to his love, mercy and forgiveness by our interactions with our brother and sisters.
Our daily lives are meant to serve as a means of experiencing and sharing the Risen Lord with others. Just as the disciples experienced their Risen Lord in their community, let us learn to recognize the presence of Jesus in our own homes, social service centers, nursing facilities, hospitals and schools. Jesus wants us to be a community which shares and cares, a community which knows how to recognize Jesus in the poor, the marginalized, the sick – that is, in everyone.
God Bless You,