Today’s first reading speaks of the reaction the leaders, elders and scribes had as a result of Peter’s healing the lame man at the temple. We are told they were “amazed” that these ordinary, uneducated men had such power to heal. Their fear that this would encourage others to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah led them to order the apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus in public. However, the enlightened apostles responded that it would be impossible for them to not to proclaim what they had “seen and heard”.
Indeed, the Gospel reading presents a very different picture of these faith-filled men. Mary Magdalene, who has witnessed the empty tomb and encountered the risen Jesus, tries to tell the apostles this “good news” yet they are unable to believe her word. Again they are given the same news from the two who encountered him on their way to Emmaus. They had returned to tell them that they had recognized him in the “breaking of the bread” and yet the apostles still could not believe the news.
Finally, Jesus appeared to them in his risen state and rebuked them for their unbelief. He gave them actual proof of his Resurrection by showing them his wounds and eating with them. This may seem strange to us that the apostles were so slow to believe that Jesus had done what he had foretold he would do. Yet aren’t we all a bit like the apostles when we act without the faith to believe that Jesus is with us right here and now in the very ordinary events of our lives?
We have been given the gift of faith by God, so why does this happen to us? Well, perhaps it is because we fail to use our gift of faith often enough. Gifts that remain unused are often forgotten, however, gifts that are used have meaning and we value them. Do we really value our gift of faith? Do we believe this “living word” that we heard proclaimed in today’s readings; that Jesus has risen and is with us always, until he comes again in glory?
The apostles’ faith was strengthened when they recognized Jesus in their midst. Our gift of faith is strengthened also, when we recognize the risen Jesus in our midst especially in the Eucharist. When we recognize this presence, we too will have the courage to “go into the world and proclaim the gospel”.
Risen Christ, may we so strengthen our gift of faith that our witness to the truth of your gospel will cause others to come to believe in you.
- Alice Smith has been a part of Holy Family’s women’s retreat ministry for many years. She lives with her husband on Cape Cod.