View all Gospel Reflections |
Appearing and Disappearing
Saturday of the Octave of Easter
When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either. [But] later, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are alive and close to me, especially through your sacramental presence. From here, you work tirelessly to extend your kingdom. May I cling to your Church so that your love will continue to flow through me and sustain me in fulfilling the mission you have entrusted to me.
- Unbelief: Three times in the Gospel summaries of the Resurrection appearances, we learn that Jesus’s witnesses were “not believed.” Jesus reproached the disciples for their lack of faith, but he sent them to proclaim the good news anyway. Mary Magdalene may not have seemed a likely candidate to witness to those who would not believe. Jesus wants us to see that our worthiness to witness to the Gospel as an announcer of his truth is not judged according to our perceptions, but rather according to his personal, loving call. If we are believers in the Resurrection events, why is it so difficult to believe in this same love at work transforming our hearts and the world around us? Our disbelief does not discourage the risen Lord! With a sincere heart say, “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief!”
- Alive and Seen: Faith in the risen Christ came slowly for the disciples, and Jesus had to convince them that he had indeed risen from death. Our faith journey has its fair share of ups and downs, but we cannot deny in times of darkness or desolation what we have seen in the light and experienced in a sure moment of grace. Even though our life of prayer goes through phases, at times filled with many words and at other moments in complete silence, Jesus wants us to learn to trust that he is always near even when it may not seem so. By loving Jesus in obscurity and darkness, our faith springs to life.
- Go into the Whole World: Jesus knows that, at times, we will struggle in our efforts to carry out our mission, just as it was challenging for the disciples to believe in the Resurrection. We can be outwardly confident yet harboring doubts, and in other moments hesitant to proclaim what seems certain. Jesus sees and understands our resistance and reluctance; however, he continues to send us out to “the whole world.” He never despairs of us, his beloved followers. After all, it is his work taking effect through our faithfulness. “[T]he Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. (Evangeli Gaudium #24) Listen for where the Lord is inviting you to proclaim the Good News in the current circumstances of your life.
Conversing with Christ: I have experienced the presence of God in numerous ways, not the least of which is in the sacraments given to me through the Church. I have had so many moments of strength, consolation, and peace in prayer to the risen Lord who desires to draw near. May I grow deeper in my conviction and more courageous in my response to the commission to proclaim the Gospel in every aspect of my life.
Resolution: Lord, today I will lean on your grace in the sacraments, either by participating in daily Mass or regular confession, to ask for a renewed confidence in my mission to show God’s love in the precise circumstances of my everyday life.
For Further Reflection: A short video by Fr. John Bartunek, LC, on “You Are Called to Be an Apostle,” https://rcspirituality.org/spiritual_smoothie/you-are-called-to-be-an-apostle/.
Written by Lucy Honner