Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for the ‘Sunday Gospels’ Category

John 6:1-15
Multiplication of the Loaves
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday Gospel Reflection

Today’s gospel narrates to us one of the greatest miracles of Jesus – the feeding of about five thousand people out of five barley loaves and two fish. This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels.

“The location according to the text is in a “desert” region. There was green grass so it wasn’t too barren. The word “desert” means a remote place. Perhaps the gospel writers used the word “desert” because in the OT the desert was where God met, tested and blessed his people” (15 James A. Brooks, Mark, NAC. p. 107).

The miracle happened when John the Baptist had just been killed and Herod was seeking Jesus.  Jesus had withdrawn with the disciples to be alone to rest (according to Mark and John’s chronology the disciples had just returned from being sent out) and to give them some private instruction.  It was time to take a break, but the crowds followed Him and they have nothing to eat. There and then Jesus out of his compassion feed five thousand people in number. There were even 12 filled wicker baskets of fragments left-over.

There are three points to be considered here for our reflection and daily Christian living:

First, Jesus takes cares of us in all our needs: both body and soul. Hence, his love and care for us is integral, whole and complete. This is why in today’s account, Jesus does not want to dismiss the hungry crowd on empty stomach in a deserted place. Instead, out of compassion, he attends to his peoples’ hunger, both material and spiritual. This is the best reminder for all of us who are ministers of the word: “Never preach in an empty stomach,”  or “You cannot preach love on an empty stomach” as the popular saying goes.

Second, a miracle is not God working for us; it is God working with us. Expectant faith, therefore, does not make us fold our hands doing nothing looking into heaven while waiting for miracles to come. Rather it spurs us on to make our best, if not greatest possible contributions, our efforts, cooperation, generosity, five loaves and two fish, knowing that without them, though how humble and inadequate they were, there would be no miracle.

Third, miracle aims conversion, faith and discipleship.  It would be somehow sound to infer that what really happened here was not just the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish that fed the five thousand of  hungry crowds but also a miracles of sharing as a fruit of conversion, faith and discipleship. It is said that “the world is so poor for everybody’s greed but so rich for everybody’s need.”

It is estimated that 840 millions out of 6.2 billon (August 16, 2002 estimate, US Census Bureau) in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition (World Hunger, Do you know the facts?). About 24,000 people die everyday from hunger or hunger-related causes. This is down from 35,000 ten years ago, and 41,000 twenty years ago. Three-fourth of the deaths are children under the age of five. Famine and wars cause about 10% of hunger deaths, although these tend to be the ones you hear about often. Majority of hunger deaths are caused by chronic malnutrition whose cause is poverty. And the root cause of poverty is sin in the forms of injustice, greed and selfishness.

We do not need Jesus to come and be crucified once again just to perform miracles for us so that we can eat and live. Rather, let the word, the person and the example of Jesus do miracles for us by transforming us from being greedy to generous, from being selfish to selfless, from being close and indifferent to being sensitive and responsive to the needs of the people around us. This is what the world needs now. The miracle of sharing, giving, caring and love. With this, the world would be a better place to live in.

Mk 5:21-43 -THE OFFICIAL’S DAUGHTER AND THE WOMAN WITH HEMORRHAGE
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In both Mark and Luke, Jesus has just calmed the storm on the sea and cured a demoniac at Gadara. Now we come to a double miracle which occur almost simultaneously in which Jesus deals with both death and disease. The message from Mark 5 and Luke 8 is that Jesus has power over the natural world and the supernatural world and now we see He has power over disease and death.

The Gospels report Jesus raising three people to life–this girl, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. In each case the identity of the person is clearly given.

This account shows us, once again, the role faith plays in Jesus’ saving actions.

In the case of the woman with the hemorrhage we should note that Jesus is won over by her sincerity and faith: she does not let obstacles get in her way. For your information, this is the real status of the woman. According to Mark, the doctors couldn’t help her. He says, “She suffered much at the hands of many doctors, had spent all her money and was not helped at all.” Luke doesn’t mention that she suffered at the hands of many doctors, nor that she had spent all her money on medical bills. He just mentions that she could not be healed. Why do you think Luke left that part out? Because Luke was a doctor.

Because of her condition, this woman, who have suffered hemorrhage for twelve years, was continuously unclean according to Lev 15:25-31 and her touch would have made anyone she touched unclean. Haggai 2:10-14 makes the point that if something clean touches something unclean, then the thing that was clean is defiled. She could not go to the temple to worship. She could not touch anyone or they would be unclean for the rest of the day. If she sat in a chair, it was unclean for the rest of the day, etc. So she was basically cut off from normal fellowship with others and with God

Such was her seemingly helpless situation that she came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment; for she said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I shall be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Mt. 9:21-23).

Similarly, Jairus, the “ruler” (of the synagogue) referred to in today’s gospel narrative as can be known from the parallel passages in Mark (5:21-43) and Luke (8:40-56), does not care what people will say; a prominent person in his city, he humbles himself before Jesus for all to see. “While He (Jesus) was speaking to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before Him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Kneeling is the eastern way of showing respect to God or to important people. Reverence is a legitimate and appropriate external sign of internal faith and adoration.

And Jesus rose and followed him, with His disciples” (Mt 9:18f). While they are on their way home, a sick woman comes up and touches Jesus’ garment. Her faith expressed in touching healed her. Jairus is with Jesus and when Jesus stops to help the woman some men from Jairus’ house report that Jairus’ daughter is dead. When they get to the house, He tells them “depart, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping” and they laugh at Him. Was she dead? Yes. The text says, “Her spirit returned.”

Jesus says the same thing about Lazarus: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him” (John 11:11). Although Jesus speaks of sleep, there is no question of the girl–or Lazarus, later–not being dead. For our Lord there is only one true death–that of eternal punishment (cf. Matthew 10:28).  Sleep is a euphemism for “temporal” death. Paul even uses this term for believers (1 Co 15, 1Co 11).

Three interpretations we can possibly develop on today’s account:

First, from the healing of the woman we see that it is faith in Christ, not magical touches that heal. The power is in a person, not a fabric or formula. In Jesus’ time there was a superstition that that power was in the robe of a great man, priest, rabbi, etc. Her belief was that touching the fabric would make her well. In fact, when she did touch His garment, she was healed. Jesus was aware of the fact that a miracle had taken place.

Was she healed by touching his garment? Was it the garment that healed her? No, Mark 5:30 says Jesus felt the power flow from Him. Jesus declares to the woman that it was not the touch but her faith which healed her. Mark wants to distinguish between the fabric and her faith in Him. Here we can see that God can use inadequate faith, respond to it and clarify it later.  God was gracious enough to respond to her faith even though it was not mature. I think one of the reasons Jesus stopped was to tell the woman that it was her faith that healed her so that she wouldn’t continue in her superstition.

Second, the raising of Jairus’ daughter affirms the deity of Christ and proves that he is the Messiah, the resurrection and the life.  Matt 11:5 quotes Isa 35. It is Jesus who guarantees our resurrection from the dead. Because He lives, we too shall live (Paul tells us). It is him that turns death into sleep from which we can awake.

Third, intercessory prayer is powerful. Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men especially sinners (cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; Tim 2:5-8). In today’s Gospel story we seem to have a miracle occurring almost independently of the woman being raised from dead. She was raised from the dead because of the faith of his Jairus – his father.

It was Jairus’ prayer in faith that healed and saved her daughter from hemorrhage. Have faith, then, to Jesus so that your heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to “seek” and to “knock,” since he himself is the door and the way (cf. Mt 7:7-11, 13-14, see cf. CCC 2609).  “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will” (Mk 11:24). Such is the power of prayer and of the faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23; cf. Mt21:22;  see cf. CCC 2610).

I exhort you, then, to have faith in God who “wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4), that is, Jesus the way, the truth and the life” (see Jn 16:1; 14:6). “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3: 17) and “that we might have life to the full” (Jn 10:10).  Apart from Him you can do nothing (Jn 15:5), hence, pray always and never lost heart (Lk 18:1), “never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:17f);

Mk 14:12-16, 22-26 – The Lord’s Supper
Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ
Sunday Gospel Reflection

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi. “Corpus Christi” are two Latin words for “Body of Christ.” This great feast is in honor of the Real Presence of the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic species of bread and wine.

St. Bonaventure reminds us of its meritorious effect when we celebrate and explicitly confess our belief on the Eucharist: “There is no difficulty about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist as in a sign, but that He is truly present in the Eucharist as He is in heaven, this is most difficult. Therefore to believe this is especially meritorious.”[ 7. In. IV Sent. Dist. X. P. I Art. Un. Qu. I, Oper. Omn. Tom. IV Ad Claras Acquas 1889, p. 217]

As we celebrate this Solemnity of the Corpus Christi we are reminded of the following:

First, the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligations. This is the first of the precepts of the Church in which every Catholic ought to fulfill to the least to be considered practicing Christian. The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation”) requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord” (Cf. CIC, cann. 1246-1248; CCEO, can. 881 par.1, par. 2, and 4).

In the Philippines the holy days of obligations are: Christmas Day (December 25), Motherhood of Mary (January 1), and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8).

Essentially connected to this obligation is our active, full and conscious participation in the celebration of Eucharist. When we are absent-minded or our focus is disintegrated our participation is questionable. When we do not know what we say and what we do during the mass our participation is not conscious. When we do not participate in all the responses and community singing during Mass our participation is not active and full. When we go to the Church for reasons other than to take part in the celebration of the Mass then our motivation and participation are questionable.

Second, to receive the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ every time we attend Mass or at least once a year especially during Easter. This is also one of the precepts of the Church. “The Mass is a sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. And it is because of this that even the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us” (see cf. CCC 1382).

During the consecration where the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, he invites and urges us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you ( see Jn 6:53). “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him (Jn 6:57).

In the Eucharist “is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch and the living bread which gives life to men through his flesh – that flesh which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit. Thus men are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation with Christ …” (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 5). For the bread of life to sustain life, it must be sought, approached, taken, broken, and eaten. Likewise Jesus must be invited into our lives if we are to enjoy the well being he brings.

Third, to receive worthily the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. St. Paul St. Paul urge us to examine our conscience before coming to confession to avoid the sin of sacrilege: ”Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the body and blood of the Lord. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor 11:27-29).

To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves by receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion when conscious of grave sin (cf. CCC 1385) by observing the fast required in the Church (cf. CIC, can. 919) and by bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) that convey the respect, solemnity and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.

Before so great a sacrament, let us echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion:” Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed” (cf. Mt 8:8). And pray, that through Christ, the Mediator, we may be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other so that finally God may be all in all” (see cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 48).

Jn 15:9-17 – Jesus’ Commandment
Sixth Sunday of Easter

“This I command you: love one another” – John 15:17

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Mk 12:30). “And your neighbor as yourself”  (Lk 10:27) is the first and most important. “The commandment of love encompass all of the commandments of the Decalogue and fulfill them. All are contained in them, all follows from them, all strive toward them” (OR, June 1991). “Love is the greatest and the first of all the commandments and in it all the others are included and made one” (JP II Address to Youth). It is a resume and condensation of the fullness of the Law (Rm. 13:8, 10) that suffices. So it is that charity expresses all, contains all, crowns all.

In today’s Gospel, the commandments (plural) in Jn 15:10 have been reduced to a singular commandment: the disciples are to love one another, just as Jesus has loved them. This is the new commandment of Jn 13:34, and it is repeated in Jn 15:17. The disciples’ love for one another is compared to Jesus’ love for them. How has Jesus shown his love for the disciples? This was illustrated in 13:1-20 in the washing of the disciples’ feet, introduced by the statement in Jn 13:1 that Jesus loved them to the end.

It was explained how in context this constitutes a reference to Jesus’ self-sacrificial death on the cross on their behalf; the love they are to have for one another is so great that it must include a self-sacrificial willingness to die for one another if necessary. This is exactly what Jesus is discussing here, because he introduces the theme of his sacrificial death in the following verse. In 10:18 and 14:31 Jesus spoke of his death on the cross as a commandment he had received from his Father, which also links the idea of commandment and love as they are linked here.

Let us take note that It is not just the degree or intensity of the disciples’ love for one another that Jesus is referring to when he introduces by comparison his own death on the cross (that they must love one another enough to die for one another) but the very means of expressing that love: it is to express itself in self-sacrifice for one another, sacrifice up to the point of death, which is what Jesus himself did on the cross (cf. 1 John 3:16).

Jesus has shown us the way of real loving to the end. He died for us even when we were sinners.  He loves us all even when we were unlovables, undeserving of his love and unrepentant sinners. Let us, therefore love as he has loved us. “Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors that you may be children of  your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. If  you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect ” (v. 44-48).

Useful Homily:

Abide: Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD

Jn 15:1-8 – The Vine and The Branches
Fifth Sunday of Easter

Somebody once compared a Christian to a basketball player. To be good player, he said, it is not enough that you run fast, dribble well, assists timely and execute the play as planned. It is not enough that you have years of experience, full knowledge of the rules and regulation, good nutrition, enough rest  and constant practice. What matters most is to be able to shoot, to make points  and eventually to win the game.

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, is saying the same thing but in ways familiar and understandable to his people during his time.  Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears much fruit…He who abides I me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit…By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (Jn 15:1-2, 5-8).

Our Lord is describing two kinds of followers: that of those who, although they are still joined to the vine externally, yield no fruit; and that of those who do yield fruit but could yield still more. The Epistle of St. James carries the same message when it says that faith alone is not enough (James 2:17). Although it is true that faith is the beginning of salvation and that without faith we cannot please God, it is also true that a living faith must yield fruit in the form of deeds. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). So, one can say that in order to produce fruit pleasing to God, it is not enough to have received Baptism and to profess the faith externally: a person has to share in Christ’s life through grace and has to cooperate with Him in His work of redemption.

Jesus uses the same verb to refer to the pruning of the branches as He uses to refer to the cleanness of the disciples in the next verse: literally the translation should run: “He cleanses him who bears fruit so that he bear more fruit”. In other words, He is making it quite clear that God is not content with half-hearted commitment, and therefore He purifies His own by means of contradictions and difficulties, which are a form of pruning, to produce more fruit. In this we can see an explanation of the purpose of suffering: “Have you not heard the Master Himself tell the parable of the vine and the branches? Here we can find consolation. He demands much of you for you are the branch that bears fruit. And He must prune you `ut fructum plus afferas”: to make you bear more fruit’.

“Of course: that cutting, that pruning, hurts. But, afterwards, what richness in your fruits, what maturity in your actions” (St J. Escriva, “The Way”, 701).

After washing Peter’s feet Jesus had already said that His Apostles were clean, though not all of them (cf. John 13:10). Here, once more, He refers to that inner cleansing which results from accepting His teachings. “For Christ’s word in the first place cleanses us from errors, by instructing us (cf. Titus 1:9) […]; secondly, it purifies our hearts of earthly affections, filling them with desire for Heavenly things […]; finally, His word purifies us with the strength of faith, for `He cleansed their hearts by faith’ (Acts 15:9)” (St. Thomas Aquinas, “Commentary on St. John, in loc.”).

Christianity, therefore, is not just a religion of “don’ts” or simply avoidance of sin but one of “do’s”. Christ is very definite about it, “You must bear fruit in plenty,” fruits of good works.  The only thing that matters is “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6) as St James beautifully put it: “What good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it?” (Jas 3:14).

We must bear abundantly the fruit of holiness (see Gal 5:22ff) and evangelization (Jn 15:5). Otherwise, we will be like “a withered, rejected branch, picked up to be thrown in the fire and burnt” (Jn 15:6). We bear fruit abundantly by being attached to and living in the Vine, Jesus Christ (Jn 15:5). We must be abiding in Jesus and He in us, and stay in communion with all the others who abide in Jesus.

The life of union with Christ is necessarily something which goes far beyond one’s private life: it has to be focused on the good of others; and if this happens, a fruitful apostolate is the result, for “apostolate, of whatever kind it be, must be an overflow of the interior life” (St J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 239).

The Second Vatican Council, quoting this page from St. John, teaches what a Christian apostolate should be: “Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church’s whole apostolate. Clearly then, the fruitfulness of the apostolate of lay people depends on their living union with Christ; as the Lord Himself said: `He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing’. This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is maintained by the spiritual helps common to all the faithful, chiefly by the active participation in the Liturgy. Laymen should make such a use of these helps that, while meeting their human obligations in the ordinary conditions of life, they do not separate their union with Christ from their ordinary life; but through the very performance of their tasks, which are God’s will for them, actually promote the growth of their union with Him” (“Apostolicam Actuositatem”, 4).

If a person is not united to Christ by means of grace he will ultimately meet the same fate as the dead branches–fire. There is a clear parallelism with other images our Lord uses–the parables of the sound tree and the bad tree (Matthew 7:15-20), the dragnet (Matthew 13:49-50), and the invitation to the wedding (Matthew 22:11-14), etc. Here is how St. Augustine comments on this passage: “The wood of the vine is the more contemptible if it does not abide in the vine, and the more glorious if it does abide….For, being cut off it is profitable neither for the vinedresser nor for the carpenter. For one of these only is it useful–the vine or the fire. If it is not in the vine, it goes to the fire; to avoid going to the fire it must be joined to the vine” (“In Ioann. Evang.”, 81, 3).

Jesus, makes it clear that those baptized into Christ have been baptized into one body (1 Cor 12:13). If we are united to Jesus, the Head of the body, we are to be united to all the other parts of the body. Jesus promised that the world would believe when Christians are one (Jn 17:21). In unity, we will bear the great harvest leading to Jesus’ final return.

Lk 24:35-48 – The Appearance to the Disciples in Jerusalem
Third Sunday of Easter
Sunday Gospel Reflection

The Church in her Catechism teaches: “The resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of the Christian faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the First Christian community; handed as fundamental by Tradition; established by the document of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with cross” (cf. CCC 638).

Simply explained, the resurrection of Jesus is so central to our Christian faith because if Christ did not rise from the death our faith is worthless, our teachings and preaching are useless (see 1 Cor 15:17). The resurrection of Jesus is also so central to the salvation we strive, hope and pray for because we are saved not only when we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord but also when we believe in our hearts that Jesus who suffered and died on the Cross rose on the third day (see Rm 10:9). If Christ did not rise from the dead, then, salvation is not possible. Lastly the resurrection of Jesus is also so central to the building up, spreading of and the continuation of the Church established by Christ here on earth. If Christ did not rise from the dead there would be no more disciples left now. There would be no more Church now.

The resurrection of Jesus is so relevant and meaningful to our Christian faith, salvation and the building up, spreading of and the continuation of the Church but there are theories which had been made attempting to show that the resurrection of Jesus was a fraud or a  myth concocted by the disciples many years later.

One among them is the spiritual resurrection theory. This is the view that Christ’s resurrection was not a real physical resurrection. Proponents of this theory assert that Christ’s body remained in the grave and His real resurrection was spiritual in nature. It was only told this way to illustrate the truth of spiritual resurrection, that is, that Jesus resurrected only in the hearts and minds of the believers by virtue of faith.

How do we refute this? It is clearly wrong to assert that the dead body of Jesus remained in the tomb and like any other dead human body underwent the natural process of decomposition. Considering the biblical account, the physical body of Jesus did disappear from the tomb. If you still remember the first visit of Mary Magdalene early in the morning of Sunday, she only found an empty tomb. She though that somebody has stolen the body of Jesus.

When this was reported to Peter and John they immediately came to see the tomb of Jesus. They found the empty tomb and the undisturbed linen wrappings that covered the body of Jesus and also the soudavrion, the piece of cloth that had covered Jesus’ head, not lying with the other wrappings, but rolled up in one place by itself. But they never found the body of Jesus.

Basically the issue concerns the positioning of the graveclothes as seen by Peter and the other disciple when they entered the tomb. Some have sought to prove that when the disciples saw the graveclothes they were arranged just as they were when around the body, so that when the resurrection took place the resurrected body of Jesus passed through them without rearranging or disturbing them. In this case the reference to the soudavrion being rolled up does not refer to its being folded, but collapsed in the shape it had when wrapped around the head.

All that the condition of the graveclothes indicated was that the body of Jesus had not been stolen by thieves. Anyone who had come to remove the body (whether the authorities or anyone else) would not have bothered to unwrap it before carrying it off. And even if one could imagine that they had (perhaps in search of valuables such as rings or jewelry still worn by the corpse) they would certainly not have bothered to take time to roll up the facecloth and leave the other wrappings in an orderly fashion!

After Peter went ahead and entered the tomb, the Beloved Disciple, who had arrived there first, also entered. When he saw the graveclothes in the condition described in the previous verse, he saw and believed. What was it that the Beloved Disciple believed (since v. 7 describes what he saw)? the Evangelist intends us to understand that when the Beloved Disciple entered the tomb after Peter and saw the state of the graveclothes, he believed in the resurrection, i.e., that Jesus had risen from the dead.

If it was only a spiritual resurrection, then, what happened to the body? Did anyone discover and get custody of any of the remains of Jesus? History shows there was a body there and it disappeared. No one was able to produce the body nor disprove the resurrection.

By itself, the tradition of the “empty tomb” does not prove anything. But when linked to the Risen Christ’s appearances, it is confirmatory of the resurrection (cf. CCC 640). Indeed, the personal appearances of Christ following His resurrection are another overwhelming historical proof. The women and the disciples saw, heard, and even touched the Lord. In fact, 500 brethren saw him at one time (1 Cor. 15:6). Furthermore, the risen Lord even ate with them for two times as reported by the Gospel.

Today’s gospel narrative is about the appearance of Jesus to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus came from Jerusalem where Jesus was arrested, imprisoned, punished, crucified and died on the cross. There were filled with sorrow, pain, fear, despair and disillusionment over the death of Jesus whom they considered to be the promised Messiah who set them free from the dominion and oppression of the Roman Empire. It was at this moment of crisis when Jesus suddenly appeared and joined them as they journey towards Emmaus.

As they were on their way to Emmaus, Jesus explained to them that everything that had happened (passion, death and resurrection of Jesus)  in the life of Jesus is a fulfillment of biblical prophecies and in accordance with the Scriptures. Whey they reached the place, they invited Jesus to stay with them because it is nearly evening and the day is almost over. So Jesus went in to stay with them. There and then while he was with them at the table he took bread, broke it, and it gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

The disciples hearts were burning inside when Jesus spoke to them on the road and their  eyes were only fully opened and recognized the Lord during the breaking of the bread. It was during the breaking of the bread that the disciples’ sadness, fear, despair and slowness of understanding are transformed into joyful, fearless and enthusiastic recommitment to  the person, life, works and mission of Jesus. Indeed, the Risen Christ is present and recognized  when the Scriptures is proclaimed , when the bread is broken.

The journey of the two disciples towards Emmaus is, at first, a journey of sorrow, pain, fear and despair. But when they recognized Jesus, the Risen Lord, through the breaking of word and the breaking of the bread the journey towards Emmaus is a journey of encountering, discovering and welcoming the risen Lord into their hearts in faith. It becomes a journey from sorrow to joy, from fear to courage, from ignorance to faith, from despair to hope.

Jesus had been with his disciples all the way, and they did not recognize Him. Isn’t this our life too. We fail to recognize how close the Lord is to us all the time. Maybe we don’t even recognize him in the breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist and in the breaking of the Word. Maybe we don’t even recognize him in the person of the priest and in the people around us especially the poor, the needy and the suffering. Maybe we don’t even recognize him in the Bread that we eat during communion and the Blessed Sacrament inside the Tabernacle.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ which he entrusted to the Church to perpetuate his saving sacrifice on the cross and in order to apply the fruit of redemption to all men and women of all ages and of all nations, let us ask God to open our eyes so that we may be able to acknowledge him in the person of the priest, in the words being proclaimed, in the Eucharistic bread and wine especially during the elevation of the body and blood of Christ, communion, holy hour and Eucharistic adoration, and lastly, in our neighbor especially in the poor, the needy and the suffering.

Then let us also exert all our efforts to make our Eucharistic celebration active, conscious and full in order to make it meaningful and fruitful to the extent that we will be nourished, strengthened and empowered by the words of God and the Eucharist which is a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity,  a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (SC 47).

John 20:19-31 – Appearance to the Disciples
Second Sunday of Easter

When the other disciples reported to Thomas what had happened, telling him that they had seen the resurrected Jesus, Thomas did not believe on account of their testimony, however. He flatly refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead unless he could see the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and put his hand into the spear wound in Jesus’ side.

Eight days later the disciples were again together behind closed doors. This time Thomas was present with the other disciples. Jesus (who is portrayed as knowing precisely what Thomas had said previously about what it would take to make him believe) now turned to Thomas and offered him the opportunity to touch the nail marks in his hands and the spear wound in his side. He, then, exhorted him,  “do not be unbelieving but believe” (Jn 20:27).  Thomas’ answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God”! (Jn 20:28).

Thomas’ statement, while it may have been an exclamation, does in fact confess the faith which he had previously lacked. Thomas’ reply is not simply an exclamation: it is an assertion, an admirable act of faith in the divinity of Christ: “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas’ confession, is the culmination of the gospel’s Christology, since it acknowledges the crucified/exalted Jesus as “Lord and God” (other acclamations in the Gospel, 1:49; 4:42; 6:69; 9:37-38; 11:27; 16:30; see cf. JBC 61:235). The Fourth Gospel opened with many other titles for Jesus: the Lamb of God (1:29, 36); the Son of God (1:34, 49); Rabbi (1:38); Messiah (1:41); the King of Israel (1:49); the Son of Man (1:51). Now the climax is reached with the proclamation by Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”  Thomas’ confession of faith  has become the ejaculatory prayer often used by Christians all over the world, especially as an act of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.

It is significant that Jesus does not reject or modify Thomas’ confession. Instead he accepts it approvingly but reprimands Thomas for demanding such a sign before he will believe (Jn 20:25; cf. 4:48). He should believe in the basis of the word which has been spoken to him by others (e.g., 17:20;  see cf. JBC 61:235).

Jesus in saying those words concludes that those Christians who have believed without seeing have the same faith which is in no way different from that of the first disciples. These refer to the  future disciples who would believe without the benefit of seeing but have come to believe in Jesus through the words of his disciples and their successors.

As we celebrate today the Second Sunday of Easter, let us heed the Lord’s exhortation to stop our unbelief and beg Him to increase our faith so that, like Thomas, we can also acclaim the highest Christological confession of faith, “My Lord and my God!,” that resounded throughout all history (Jn 20:28). When we are in doubt let us learn from Thomas who has recovered from the crisis caused by doubt and imitate his example. Few moments from now, we will witness the priest prays the consecration and elevates the body and blood of Jesus, let us be one in heart and mind with Thomas the Apostle in acclaiming, “My Lord and God!” (Jn 20:28). 


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