Jakarta, 15 April 2018
A Christian Pilgrim
THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS BELIEVED NOT FOR JOY
(A biblical refection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR B] – 15 April 2018)
Gospel Reading: Luke 24:35-48
First Reading: Acts 3:13-15,17-19; Psalms: Psalm 4:2,4,7,9; Second Reading: 1 John 2:1-5
The Scripture Text
Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
As they were saying this, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why to questionings rise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them.
Then He said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:35-48 RSV)
When Jesus appeared before the disciples after His resurrection, they were terrified; they thought that they had seen a ghost. The death of Jesus of the cross had been too painful and devastating for them. Their investment of time and their destiny in Jesus came crumbling down of Good Friday when Jesus, their Master had been caught and crucified on the cross. They wept more for themselves than for Jesus. A drama in their lives had come to an end. It is when they had reconciled themselves to this tragic fate that a new vision, a new life appeared in the resurrected Jesus. When He appeared before them, they were afraid and dumbfounded. When they recognized Him, their fright gave way to joy, and paradoxically, their joy swallowed up their belief. Now, they believed not for joy.
The works of the Lord are, sometimes, too marvelous for us to believe. The fact that God loves us so much and that He sent His Son to die upon the cross for the forgiveness of our sins is too marvelous for us to believe. How could, God, who is Almighty and Holy, take the human form and die for us on the cross as a malefactor? The holy God died for poor wretched sinners, like me? This is too much to be believed. But it is true that Jesus loves us – poor sinners, and He died and rose from the dead for us. Anyone who believes in Him, and accepts Him as her or his Savior, even though she or he dies, yet shall she or he live (see John 11:25).
The disciples could not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. He challenged them to touch Him, to look at His hands and feet, and asked them to give Him something to eat, which He consumed in front of them. He showed them several evidences to prove that He had indeed risen from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is real; it is not a fancy; it is not a story concocted by the disciples. The disciples saw Jesus risen from the dead, and later, they authenticated it with their own blood. No man dies for what he knows to be wrong. Jesus is, indeed, risen from the dead. Saint Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1Corinthians 15:14).
When the disciples believed not for joy, Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). When we have doubts about the fact that God loves us, all we need to go to the Bible to know more about Jesus. Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scripture is the ignorance of Christ”. We must make it our constant endeavor to read the Bible more frequently.
Jesus explained the incredulous disciples about the necessity of His sufferings predicted in the Scriptures. Jesus is the Missing Link in the Old Testament. He explains and makes sense of it. Put Jesus into the Old Testament, all the puzzles get solved, and the mysteries open up. Without Him, the Old Testament is bereft of fulfilment.
As Christians, we believe that the Bible, comprising of the Old and the New Testament, is God’s revelation. We love the Old Testament because in it God shows how He was working all through history to bring His Son into the world to be the Savior, and we love the New Testament because through it God reveals the salvation which He wrought through Jesus Christ. We must read our Bible more often to see the wonders, which God had done for us in the past, and to believe in the wonders which He is going to work for us in the future.
Let us be happy and joyful that Christ, by His death and resurrection, had worked out our salvation. When the disciples talked to one another, Jesus appeared in their midst, and began to talk to them. We, often, gather together and talk one against the other, and therefore, Jesus never appears in our midst. Let us cease talking against one another, and begin, like the disciples, to talk of all the things that happened in Jerusalem, and surely, Jesus who made His divine presence among them, will also make His divine presence among us.
Prayer: May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to Himself; may the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in His service; may the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls; may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen. (William Temple)
Source: John Rose, JOHN’S ILLUSTRATED SUNDAY HOMILIES – CYCLE B, Bangalore, India: Asian Trading Corporation, sixth printing 2011, pages 73-76.
Jakarta, 13 April 2018
A Christian Pilgrim
TWO APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN LORD TO THE DISCIPLES
(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR B] – 8 April 2018)
[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31
First Reading: Acts 4:32-35; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,16-18,22-24; Second Reading: 1John 5:1-6
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 these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV)
We saw this Gospel last year [Year A] and will see it again next year [Year C]. It speaks of two appearances of the risen Lord: The one on Easter (without Thomas), similar to the one in 1 Corinthians 15:5 and in the other Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John 21. Proper to John, however, is that Jesus gives the power to forgive sins to His apostles. One could call it the Johannine Pentecost: The Holy Spirit comes already on Easter. And the sacrament of reconciliation is Christ’s Easter gift.
In the story of creation, the book of Genesis tells us that God formed man out of the clay of the ground and then gave the man life by blowing breath (His Spirit) into the man’s nostrils. Since breath is a sign of life, this action means God was sharing His divine life with the man.
Some biblical scholars suggest John the evangelist has the story of creation in the back of his mind when he tells us Jesus breathed His Spirit on the apostles. Just as God’s breath gave life to the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden, in today’s Gospel the risen Jesus is giving new and eternal life to all who believe in Him. Just as God shared life with the people He created, Jesus shared His resurrected life with the apostles.
Jesus tells the apostles they can forgive or refuse to forgive sins in His name. Although Christians continue to debate the meaning of this passage, its interpretation may hinge on a proper understanding of the nature of the Jewish law. Some biblical scholars suggest that, in the passage in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives the early Christian community the authority to forgive even sins that some Jews traditionally considered unforgivable. This, therefore, would have been a source of hope and comfort for the early Christians
The second apparition of the risen Lord (proper to John) takes place one week later. Thomas, absent on Easter had said: “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” (John 20:25). Jesus takes up his challenge: “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” (John 20:27). And Thomas in spite of the initial doubts of faith breaks out into the profession of faith which has become a model for all times: “Mu Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
The apostles had seen and believed in the risen Lord. We, the generations after them, must believe without seeing the risen Lord, relying on the testimony of the eyewitness of the apparitions. Thomas is indeed the Model of Faith.
Prayer: Jesus, glorious risen Lord, I open my heart to You. Flood every corner of darkness and doubt in me with the light of Your truth. Blessed and holy are You. Amen.
Jakarta, 6 April 2018 [EASTER OCTAVE: FRIDAY]
A Christian Pilgrim
Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 24:35-48 – EASTER THURSDAY: 5 April 2018
The Lord commissions the Apostles to carry the Gospel from Jerusalem to all the world. When these titles given to Jesus were taken to non-Jews, they had to be translated into words that could be comprehended. “Messiah” (Anointed) became “Christos” (Greek for Anointed) and almost a surname for Jesus. “Son of Man” became “Son of God”; “Servant” became “Word of God”.
The Church tried to express the reality of what the Risen Christ meant in terms which non-Jews could understand. Later councils and creeds would become increasingly metaphysical. That is one way in which the Gospel was preached to the ends of the earth and how it continues to be proclaimed. For ourselves, we might examine the meaning of the Resurrection for ourselves. How do we move from the facts that Jesus is no longer deal to its meaning as liberation from sin, healing, spiritual power and comforting presence? The Resurrection was the full display of God’s glory and power. Different people tap into that victory and that glory in different ways. The power of God available to us through Jesus comes in many forms.
The Resurrection can be a source of hope and power in every age, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
Jakarta, 5 April 2018
A Christian Pilgrim
Thomas is renowned among the apostles chiefly because of his lack of faith which was dispelled when the risen Christ appeared to him. He proclaimed what is in fact the Easter faith of the Church when he said: “My Lord and my God”. Nothing certain is known of his life aart from whaat is given in the gospels, but tradition has it that he preached to the people of India. From the sixth century a feast of the translation of his relics has been kept at Edessa on 3 July.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, let our celebration of the feast of St. Thomas the apostle be the source of his unfailing help and protection. Fill us with Your life giving grace through Faith in Your Son, our Jesus, whom Thomas acknowledged to be his Lord and God. We make our prayer in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 3 July 2017
A Christian Pilgrim