Jesus’ uplifting presence in the Gospels

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Peter said to the people: "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in Pilate's presence when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away."

1 John 2:1-5A

My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, "I know him," but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.

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."

We can imagine that Jesus’ crucifixion must be very hard for His disciples, not only are they saddened by the death of a loved one, their hope for Jesus as the promised Messiah to redeem Israel is shattered. The events that follow are overwhelming too, on the third day, an empty tomb is found and a vision of angels who announce that He is alive is reported (cf. Luke 24:21-24).

Jesus understands the confusion, doubts and even disbelief in His disciples’ minds. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we hear that when Jesus appears to his disciples, He greets them warmly “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36). He does not condemn them for their lack of faith, but wants to convince them that truly, He is risen from the dead. He invites them to look at his hands and feet, to touch him to prove that he is not a ghost “for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). He even eats a piece of fish in their presence. As a great teacher, he explains to them patiently that “everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled […] the Christ is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day” (Luke 24:44, 46).

Sometimes, we may also find ourselves confused and in doubt when our faith is challenged by authorities, politics, popular culture, values and beliefs of the day. We may be unable to stand firm as a defender of our Christian faith. We wish so much that Jesus can be with us, to be our mentor, to console, to encourage us and to be our beacon of light when we do not know which way to take. Have we ever imagined that He might have returned to our midst? It is just that we, like His disciples after Jesus’ Resurrection, are unable to recognize him at once. With the eyes of faith, we will be able to recognize Jesus’ presence in the people we encounter whom will empower us to remain hopeful when the situation seems hopeless in the eyes of the world, and to await in Christian joy as we endure the most difficult of circumstances personally, as a community or as a people.

Without fail, we can always find Jesus’ uplifting presence in the Gospels. With this Sunday’s Gospel Acclamation, let us call on Jesus to help us fortify our faith through the Scriptures:
“Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us: make our hearts burn with love when you speak. Alleluia” (See Luke 24:32).

Posted: April 15, 2018

Shiu Lan

 
Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.


Other Sunday Reflections

Who are the Genuine Leaders Among Us?
A genuine leader gathers rather than scatters; brings peace instead of hatred; leads with compassion. Continue Reading >
Planning and Entrusting
“The Lord will give what is good” (Responsorial Psalm Ps 85:13) Continue Reading >
All FLL Volunteers Share in Jesus’ Prophetic Office
If Jesus was given the cold shoulder by his hometown people, why should we expect our mission in exercising his prophetic office to be any easier? Continue Reading >