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Daily Archives: April 30, 2011

SEEING THE LORD

SEEING THE LORD

(A biblical reflection on SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, May 1, 2011) 

Gospel Reading: Jn 20:19-31 

First Reading: Acts 2:42-47; Psalms: Ps 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Second Reading:1Pet 1:3-9 

The Scripture Text

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.  (Jn 20-19-31 RSV) 

The apostles/disciples had gathered in locked quarters, worrying whether they were next in line for arrest and execution. But in the midst of their worries, Jesus suddenly came and stood among them. Jesus’ appearance brought them joy and peace, because at that particular moment their desires to see God were fulfilled. 

Deep within the hearts of all people has been the desire to see God. On Sinai, Moses prayed, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory” (Ex 33:18). This same prayer echoes throughout the psalms as well: “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD” (Ps 27:4). 

“Seeing the Lord” is also a major theme in the New Testament, especially in John’s Gospel. For John, ‘seeing’ is associated with belief and faith and, thus, has more to do with the eyes of our hearts than with our physical eyes. “Seeing the Lord” means accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour and knowing the comfort of being called sons and daughters of God. When Jesus healed the blind man (Jn 9:1-41), the most important healing was not the gift of physical sight, but the removal of the man’s spiritual blindness. 

One apostle – Thomas [also called Didimus or the Twin] – was absent on that particular occasion, and so missed out on the excitement. The shock of Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion had left him brokenhearted, and it seems that in his grief he sought isolation rather than the comforting presence of his fellow disciples. When the disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord” (Jn 20:25), his unbelief and doubt kept him from allowing the spirit to reveal Christ to him. 

Now let us imagine Thomas’ surprise when Jesus suddenly showed up eight days later. Surrounded by his sisters and brothers in faith, Thomas was invited by Jesus to step out in faith. Yes, he finally saw the Lord, his blindness fell away and his doubt gave way to firm conviction and unspeakable joy. And, he proclaimed those great words of faith, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28). Not only did Thomas go from unbelief; he went from isolation to community. 

Seeing the Lord for who He is requires belief, and this was John’s purpose in writing his Gospel: “…that you may believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:31). 

We all long to see God. As we worship Him at Mass today in our own individual times of prayer this week, let us ask Jesus to reveal Himself to us more deeply. Let us pray with Moses, “Show me Thy glory.” 

Short Prayer: Jesus, my Lord and my God, how I long to see Your face. Give faith to the fainthearted and hope to the hopeless so that everyone my find life, peace, and joy in Your presence. Amen. 

Jakarta, April 29, 2011  

A Christian Pilgrim

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BAPTISM, SYMBOL OF CHRIST’S PASSION

BAPTISM, SYMBOL OF CHRIST’S PASSION

A reading from the instructions to the newly baptized at Jerusalem 

Myst 2,4-6 

You were conducted by the hand to the holy pool of sacred baptism, just as Christ was conveyed from the cross to the sepulchre close at hand. 

Each person was asked if he believed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. You made the confession that brings salvation, and submerged yourselves three times in the water and emerged: by this symbolic action you were secretly re-enacting the burial of Christ three days in the tomb. 

Just as our Saviour spent three days and nights in the womb of the earth, so you upon first emerging were representing Christ’s first day in the earth, and by your immersion his first night. For at night one can no longer see but during the day one has light; so you saw nothing when immersed as if it were night, but you emerged as if to the light of day. In one and the same action you died and were born: that water of salvation became both tomb and mother for you. 

What Solomon said in another context is apposite to you: ‘There is a time to be born, and a time to die’, but the opposite is true in your case – there is a time to die and a time to be born. A single moment achieves both ends, and your begetting was simultaneous with your death. 

What a strange and astonishing situation! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we did not really hang from a cross and rise again. Our imitation was symbolic, but our salvation a reality. 

Christ truly hung from a cross, was truly buried, and truly rose again. All this He did gratuitously for us, so that we might share His sufferings by imitating them, and gain salvation in actuality. 

What boundless love! The innocent hands and feet of Christ were pierced by the nails: He suffered the pain. I suffer neither pain nor anguish: yet by letting me participate in His pain He gives me the free gift of salvation. 

No one should think, then, that his baptism is merely for the remission of sins and for adoption as sons in the way that John’s baptism brought only remission of sins. We know well that not merely does it cleanse sins and bestow on us the gift of the Holy Spirit – it is also the counterpart of Christ’s suffering. This is why, as we heard just now, Paul cried out: ‘Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death.’ 

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, I truly believe whatSt. Paul writes to Romans, that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were buried, therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Amen. 

Taken from THE DIVINE OFFICE II – LENT AND EASTERTIDE – The Office of Reading – The Second Reading, pages 404-405. 

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2011 in LENT AND EASTERTIDE