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Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
1 Jn 2:1-5a
Our gospels for the two Sundays following Easter Day describe appearances of the Risen Lord. John has told us of the appearance to Thomas who approaches Jesus, the Light, and is enabled to profess that he is the Son of God. Today, Luke shows us how the disciples respond to the Risen Jesus’ first appearance among them. They are terrified, startled, amazed and incredulous for joy. Jesus is really present. He is not a spirit. He eats the fish they offer and he shows them his hands and feet, flesh and bone. It is a time of reunion, of miracle, of breaking down what is fixed in minds and hearts.
Luke wants us to feel all this, to experience emotions beyond his ability to express them in words. Had the Exultet already existed, he might have had one of the disciples sing it at this point in the gospel. Which one do you think it would be?
On his part, Jesus is happy to be with the loved ones who have shared his life and death. But this is not an occasion to resume the former relationship. “…while I was still with you…,” he says. He is not with the disciples as he was before. The Resurrection requires that everything be viewed with a new perspective. Jesus opens their minds to see that He is the fulfillment of the law, Moses, the prophets and psalms.
Peter Feladings says, “…the self-emptying for us [of Jesus] to the Father is an eternal redemptive expression of his love, perpetually uniting us to the Father.” [The Word, America Magazine, April 16-23, 2012]. If the disciples felt this, they knew Jesus in a new way.
Our reading does not include the final few verses that bring Luke’s gospel to its ending. But we are given enough to recognize that the gospel is leading us to the Acts of the Apostles. There we will be with the disciples in Jerusalem as they witness to Jesus.
The question “Why are you troubled?” is significant in this context. The only other time Luke uses the verb “troubled” is in the annunciation to Zachariah at the beginning of the gospel. Zachariah’s being troubled cost him nine months of not being able to speak. When we hear the word again we may fear that the disciples in the upper room will end up like Zachariah—becoming a happy but speechless people. Fortunately, that does not happen. The disciples will proclaim the Risen Lord to the people of Jerusalem.
Luke wants our hearts to burn within us. We have unexplainable joy. The bridegroom taken from us has returned! We had hoped….and are not disappointed. May we be troubled as were the disciples, confused with inexplicable joy and shattered conclusions, but not silenced. With the Spirit’s guidance, may we step out into the Jerusalem of every day as ministers of the Word, incredulous for joy.
- Father Bill Murphy, C.P. is the pastor of St. Joseph Monastery Passionist Parish in Baltimore, Maryland.