Grace to you!
Imagine being one of the disciples or apostles of Jesus, such as Peter or John, the beloved. During the arrest and crucifixion, you ran away, maybe lest you be arrested or killed like Jesus.
Three days after, you hear rumors the crucified Jesus is resurrected and is alive. In fact, some women you know pretty well reported they saw him. He spoke to them and would like to see you and others with you in Galilee. How would you feel? Guilt-stricken? What will be your disposition in anticipation of this meeting?
I bet guilt, shame of betraying a friend or letting him down may fill your heart. Just as many of us feel terrible when we let down a loved one.
Stories of Jesus’ resurrection and appearances leave us with a lot to ponder. We can’t glean enough of the lessons.
For instance, isn’t it fascinating the first witnesses of the Resurrection were the last people to leave the foot of the cross after the crucifixion? They were the three Marys who followed Jesus to the end at the cross and hurried to see and anoint his body right after the Passover, on the third day. They were the bold.
From their example I learn: On the morn of the resurrection, the Lord visits those who love God to the end despite the thorns and thistles they face in life. The Risen Lord visits the heart journeying through the route of pain and the cross. Scripture says, “If we died with the Lord we shall live with the Lord” (2 Tim 2:11).
Regarding the guilt-stricken and doubting disciples: The excitement, which should have ushered in the news of the Resurrection, may have been enveloped by guilt and shame. Many of the disciples of Jesus had let him down; at least it seemed so in their eyes. Ironically, Jesus is about to lift them up—gradually, not in a shocking way, but so their weak nature will mature in the understanding of the mercy of God.
Observe that Jesus took many initiatives to disabuse their minds and restore their confidence. Recall, one of the beauties of the Christian faith is that it’s God who searches for us. In Jesus’ own words; “You did not choose me. I chose you. And appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruits that will endure” (Jn 15:16).
Hence, Jesus’ appearances began with the bold, the women, and then to the guilt-stricken Peter—the head of the apostles, and to the eleven. By the time the news reached from the women, a better disposition, perhaps, could have been achieved. I may be wrong, but I feel there must have been a reason why the bold women saw the Risen Lord first.
Do you feel like the disciples who let Jesus down, who let your loved one down, and you are afraid the truth will finally be known? Is guilt tormenting you and is it difficult to hold your shoulders high and your face up, to look at the holy face of the Risen Lord?
Allow your guilt and consequent doubt to be confronted by the Risen Lord. Then, you will see that though you may've let Jesus down, he will lift you up.
Praying for the grace of a courageous makeover—conversion. Amen
[By the way, the Gospel of Mark gives yet further details of the Resurrection arranged, in a condensed but chronological form typical of the Greek style of Mark. At least 12 proofs were presented in one chapter (Mark 16). They range from the evidence of the women at the tomb, the rolled stone, the Angel’s conversation, the missing body of Jesus, Jesus’ visit to Peter, the fear of the women who reported to Peter what they saw, the consistent doubt of the disciples, the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ appearance to the two disciples out in the country (Emmaus), and the Great Commissioning of the disciples as the central mandate of the Resurrection.]
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Easter Octave Saturday: Acts 4:13-21; Mk 16:9-15]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.