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Incredulous “Aha Moments”
Thursday in the Octave of Easter
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, here I am before you again today, ready to let you work in my heart and reveal yourself to me. Like the Apostles, I need to encounter you so that I can overcome my lack of faith, so that I can be one of the ones who will preach forgiveness in your name. I open my doors to you. I welcome you into my heart. I renounce any lack of faith in you, and embrace the faith that you are truly here before me, ready to speak with me.
- Incredulous before the Proof: As we find over and over again in the accounts of the Resurrection, there was a great struggle in the hearts of Jesus’ followers to believe what they saw. Almost every encounter that he had involved some form of resistance by the Apostles. This is perhaps one of the best arguments for why the Resurrection was a real event. And we can completely sympathize with their doubt. Jesus took no offense at their resistance or doubt. Instead, he tenderly helped them to accept his resurrected bodily presence. He showed them his hands and feet, pierced through from the nails. He also ate a piece of fish to convince them of this new reality. Whenever we doubt, we can trust that Jesus will not be upset with us. He will reach out to touch us in ways that are uniquely personal and intimate. He will reassure us in our prayer and through the sacraments. He wants us to love him as he loves us.
- This Is What I Told You: Jesus did something more than just showing them his physical body. The Gospel tells us that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He reminded them of something they had apparently forgotten: that long before he was crucified, he had told them that it would happen. He had foretold it over and over again. It must have come as an “aha moment” to the disciples. Into their minds, which had been so full of doubt and disbelief, came the memories of those moments on the road, in towns throughout Israel, when again and again Jesus had said, “The Son of Man will be killed, and on the third day rise again.” They remembered the arguments they had about it, the feeling of confusion, even the angry rejection of such prophecies. Now they saw that the suffering was all part of his plan. And they also realized that each of them was called to witness to what they had experienced. Our Lord also grants us insight when we pray with the Scriptures. Our “aha moments” draw us closer to Christ and fill our hearts with gratitude. As our gratitude and love grow, they overflow and we become his enthusiastic witnesses.
- Repentance for the Forgiveness of Sins: While we don’t know how long Jesus spent with his disciples, how many other times he may have appeared, or whether he may have spoken much more to them, the Gospel gives us this very succinct dialogue in which the essential aspects of the Church are articulated. Jesus began his ministry, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sin (Mark 1:15). He is winding up his mission on earth by commanding his disciples to preach this same message. In our day, the forgiveness of sins must still be preached to all nations. There is no time for delay, rather, the Resurrection has an immediate consequence in our life. Let us take to heart the mission Christ has given us, and continue to preach his forgiveness.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I often feel like these Apostles of yours—confused and in need of a lot of convincing in order to do your will. I believe that you can, in this time of prayer, continue to break down my defenses and incredulity. Help me to have an “aha moment”—to understand your plan in my life. Help me to be courageous in speaking of you to the world.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will gratefully recall “aha moments” you have given me in prayer and discern more deeply your plan for me.
For Further Reflection: Matthew 16:21-28.
Fr. Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and worked for three years as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. Now he resides in Oakville, Ontario, serving youth and young adults.
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