Sunday, April 22, 2012: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48 (Third Sunday of Easter, Year B)
In my homily last week, I mentioned that the disciples of Jesus Christ hid themselves in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews. When the risen Christ appeared to them, he greeted them with the words, “Peace be with you.” After that, he breathed on them. I mentioned that Jesus’ breath was the breath of new life. Today’s gospel from Luke gives us more information about what was going on in the Upper Room. Luke tells us that the two disciples who encountered Jesus Christ on their way to Emmaus were recounting their encounter with the risen Christ to the rest of the Apostles when Jesus appeared in the room. Some of the disciples in that room were finding it hard to believe the story of the two disciples. It is at that moment that Jesus Christ appeared to the disciples and said to them “Peace be with you.” Jesus Christ then went on to show the disciples that he is truly risen. He cleared all doubts from their minds by showing them the marks on his body and sharing a meal with them. They were convinced that they weren’t seeing an apparition but Jesus Christ himself who died and was buried.
As I quoted St. Paul last week in my homily, “if Christ had not risen, in vain is our faith.” Our faith is faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ revealed himself to several people after he resurrection. Our evidence of the resurrection is not only the word of Peter and Jesus’ closest apostle. Our evidence is not only the word of the women who found the empty tomb. Several people saw Jesus Christ after his resurrection and their testimony is credible.
Jesus Christ also said to the disciples in today’s gospel: “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?” Do you feel troubled? Do you have questions in your heart? Then, Jesus Christ is speaking to you today. What are the times in your life that you are most troubled? When do you have questions about your faith? It is usually when people are undergoing difficult times or just encountered tragedy that they begin to question. A Christian whose faith was solid suddenly begins to question his or her faith when diagnosed with cancer or when a close relative is diagnosed with cancer; an active Christian family no longer goes to church because they have lost a precious child in an accident. It is usually the time people begin to question the existence of God. They may ask, “If God is really great and present in our lives, why did he not prevent the drunk driver from running into our daughter’s vehicle?” Tragedies are trying moments in every Christian’s life and the days after Good Friday were difficult days for the disciples. Not only were they mourning the loss of their Rabbi who had become a central part of their lives but they were also living in fear that they too will suffer the same fate. It was at such a moment that Jesus Christ appeared to them and said the consoling words “Peace be with you.” To these disciples in the upper room, the words spoken by Christ were not empty words but they were words of life. Those words had the power of the resurrection in them. They had the victory over fear and death.
Jesus Christ then went on to open their minds to understand the scriptures. What Jesus Christ was doing is to take them along with him on a journey of faith. While his immediate presence with them helped to console them and strengthen them, he understood that, that was not enough. They had to know the Lord fully in the scriptures. They had to become aware of the divine perspective. We also need to encounter the Lord in the scriptures and to see in it the divine perspective. We must continuously search our scriptures for him. As we participate in the Eucharist and in our study of the scriptures, we get to know Jesus Christ more intimately and it helps us to undergo the difficult times in our lives.
Our challenge this week is to spend some time daily reading the gospels. It may be five minutes or even three minutes. It is better than not doing anything. My prayer for you is that the living Christ will draw you closer to himself as you search for him.