3rd Sunday in Easter
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the 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 Messiah 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus I believe that you have called me to be your witness, that you want my life to be a testimony to your living presence and undying love for us. I trust that through prayer you will make me a more authentic Christian, living “not my life but yours”. I love you for you have loved me first and continue to love me and give yourself for me, especially through your Death and Resurrection made present in the celebration of the Eucharist. Help me to experience your love here so that I can better share it with those you place in my path today.
Petition: Lord, make me an effective witness of your truth and love.
1. "It Is I Myself." Why does Jesus appear only to his disciples? Simply, they were the ones who best knew him. If someone else were to come along and claim to be Jesus, his followers would be the first to expose the imposter. They knew Jesus well, but they also had witnessed his death, at least those closest to him. Before they could be witnesses of the Risen Lord, they would have to know him well in life, know him dead and then recognize him alive before them.
So Jesus did all that was necessary to help them recognize him again. He stood before their eyes, spoke to their ears, showed them his wounds, let them touch him and ate fish at their table. He then spoke to their hearts, which may have been their most powerful proof. He rekindled their faith.
In my relationship with Christ, in order to be his witness, I too must come to know him alive, dead and risen. I cannot know him without first entering into prayer and focusing on him, and there I must especially learn to listen. He will then open my eyes in faith to see him present in my life, even in the midst of great difficulties. I must know his death through suffering. The world is calling for evangelizers to speak to it of a God they themselves know and are familiar with as if they could see the invisible (Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 76).
I must be ready to experience Jesus each day of my life. But the most real, personal and direct experience of his life, death and resurrection comes to us in the Eucharistic Celebration. Here we mysteriously become present once again at his Death and Resurrection. The Eucharistic Sacrifice makes present not only the mystery of the Savior's Passion and Death, but also the mystery of the Resurrection which crowned his sacrifice (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #14).
2. Everything Fulfilled. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves (Jn 14:11). The greatest sign of authenticity is when there is coherence in our lives. Jesus' life is consistent with his teachings; he lives what he preaches. He also foretells his passion and death. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe (Jn 14:29). Finally, he fulfills the Father's Will, made known through the Law and Prophets. It all fits! Jesus has not lived a life according to his own ideas and desires but only to fulfill the Father's Plan.
The message of the Lord and the life of the messenger are intimately tied together. And so it must be with the life of his apostles, his witnesses. To be an authentic witness we must live according to our beliefs. A failure to do so leads us not only to become less credible but with time to fall entirely away from our faith. Instead of adjusting to God's way, we adapt our faith to fit the counterfeit we are living.
A witness must know the Plan of the Father. He then must strive to live it, despite all the difficulties and obstacles he might face. Jesus opened their minds so that they could recognize with faith the fulfillment of God's Plan. We must listen to God's word speak to us in Scripture and ask with faith that he now open our minds to his plan, especially his individual plan for my life.
3. "You Are Witnesses of These Things." Jesus reveals that the same plan that called him to suffer, die and rise includes his disciples. It all happened so that the forgiveness of sins could be preached to all nations. Who, if not they, would preach it? You are witnesses of these things, Jesus concludes. And for this reason he appears to them.
Each one of us has received the gift of our faith. Through Baptism Jesus has in some sense “appeared” to us, he has stepped into our lives and changed them forever. And this grace is not meant for us alone. It is a gift we must share. Because others shared it, some at the price of their lives, we have received it. Now is our turn to be a link in that chain of faith that goes directly back to Christ himself through his first apostles. We know him through Scripture and in the Sacraments, as well as in our lives, we are witnesses of who Jesus is thanks to the apostles who obeyed him and preached in his name to all nations, and thanks also to our own experience of him.
Others will come to know him only through us. It is a duty of love. In the words of St John Paul: Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him." This proclamation must not be imposed but proposed with confidence (World Missions Sunday, June 5, 2001).
Conversation: Lord Jesus, help me to know you more personally, that I might become a true witness of your love. I so often seek myself and my way. Teach me your life and give me the courage and strength to live it to the full. Help me to be an authentic witness by knowing and fulfilling your Will for me. I know others depend on my witness. Grant me a persevering thirst to witness faithfully to your love, to your death and Resurrection, to your forgiveness and the power of your grace. Help me to reach those for whom you died and rose.
1. In what ways have I come to know Jesus more in prayer? How can I improve the quality of my prayer?
2. What is the point in which I am least consistent with my condition as a baptized person and an apostle of Christ?
3. To what degree have I embraced God's call to become his witness? How am I Jesus' witness in my daily life?