|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro|
April 15th, 2018 3rd Sunday of Easter
Gospel of Luke 24:35-48
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of 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, that it is I myself. 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 Christ 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.”
Christ’s parting words summon every disciple to be a witness of their encounter with Him and of God’s merciful love.
In our frenzied culture many people vacillate from anxious stress to temporary escape through superficial pleasures. In contrast, disciples of Christ rest in His Peace and rejoice in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18).
When others wonder if anything can be true or lasting, Christians make decisions with confidence knowing that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that He has a plan for their lives. Although choices may not be easy, Christ’s disciples can look to His teachings, His Church, and to the Holy Spirit to guide them and “open their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
Worried about the future or how to find meaning in life, many turn to psychics, gurus, ideologies, pop culture, or other general spiritualties. In contrast, Christians encounter Jesus – who is alive and real, and therefore has the power to truly act in their lives on their behalf. They know that everything will be okay, because Jesus has conquered death and made them adopted children of the Father. They experience the deepest kind of meaning in their lives because they believe that every act of love and kindness will reverberate into eternity. Wealth, status, beauty, health, fame, and honor can all be taken away in a moment against one’s will. Faith, hope, love, goodness, joy, and peace cannot – as so many martyrs have witnessed in the past and continue to today.
Our witness requires speaking about our faith. We need to “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” as St. Peter instructed (I Peter 3:15). This means immersing ourselves in Scriptures and prayer and making an effort to keep learning more about our faith. In this way, we can then pass on our faith to our children and stand up for the truth in society.
Our encounter with Christ is also witnessed in our silence. I once had the opportunity to attend a private Mass at the Vatican with Pope St. John Paul II in 2001 along with about 20 other people. When we entered the chapel, Pope John Paul was kneeling in prayer. His silent conversation with the Lord was so real it was palpable. When Moses returned from Mount Sinai the people knew he had encountered God because “his face had become radiant while he spoke with the Lord” (Exodus 34:29). People often say of new mothers or new couples, that they are “glowing”. Love has a way of doing that. When we encounter Christ in prayer daily, when we walk with him throughout the day, we too glow with His love. Imaginary myths or wishful thinking cannot produce this kind of radiance.
Finally, Christ becomes visible to others through His work from within us. If I came home and the house were a mess, I wouldn’t believe my husband if he said that he had hired a maid. If, however, I returned home, and all the dishes were clean, the floors vacuumed, laundry washed, and surfaces dusted, I would believe his word without having met the person because their work would be evidence of their existence. In the same way, if we tell others of Christ’s redeeming grace but remain the same mess of sin and confusion, it may be hard for them to believe. However, when we tell them of how Christ transformed us, and they see our anger replaced with love, envy replaced with gratitude and contentment, and selfishness replaced with loving relationship, His grace will be evident to them in a real way.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). God is here. He is real. We struggle to see because we are blinded by things – pleasure, over-ambition, anxiety, fear, anger, greed, and other distractions. The more we cooperate with Christ to remove these obstacles the more easily we will see God, and the more easily others will see Him in us.
- Who do you know that seems to “glow” with love for Christ? Who seems to radiate His Peace?
- When have you experienced the peace of Christ?
- When have you found Jesus’ words to be true?
- How might you become more pure of heart? What obstacles blur your vision? How might you grow your love for the Lord?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Try to keep Christ present in your heart throughout the day. Spend 10 minutes in prayer every morning, pause for a prayer midday, and close with 5 minutes of prayer in the evening.
- Learn more about the faith by joining a bible study, attending Faith Formation at your parish, or reading a book about the faith with a group of Christian friends.
- The Beatitudes: Climbing the Mountain of God by Way of the Valley of Humility
- Attainable Unconditional Love
- Where Truth & Love Reign
- Soaking up the Sun of God
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2018
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