Sunday, April 19, 2015

RECOGNIZING JESUS


Readings for 3rd Sunday of Easter: Acts 3.13-15,17-19; Ps 4.2,4,7-9; 1 Jn 2.1-5a; Lk 24.35-48.

What a powerful, awesome experience that must have been in the gospel today, that of Christ appearing before the disciples. They were surprised and terrified. They had recently seen their dear and beloved leader crucified and killed on a cross. They were afraid because they thought the same thing might happen to them so they were hiding in the upper room. They had heard the story about the two disciples who said they had seen Jesus on the road to Emmaus. But they weren't sure if they really believed that story. They didn't know what to think. They were confused and distraught.

Then Jesus appears before them and says “Peace be with you”. They thought they were seeing a ghost! But Jesus says “Peace be with you,” which means “May God give you every good thing.” Jesus brings peace and calm and joy and excitement to them. Then he asked them “Do you have anything to eat?” A ghost doesn't eat in front of you so it was obvious that Jesus was not a ghost.

What a powerful, lasting experience that must have been. It was an experience that was to transform their lives and inspire them to spread The Word of the risen Christ to the whole world, even to this day, even for all eternity. Jesus in this account commissions the apostles to “preach repentance and the offer of forgiveness in his name to all the nations.” How can anyone who has seen the risen Lord refuse such a task? We are all called to preach to all nations of the witness of the risen Christ.

Last week we read about the story of Thomas, doubting Thomas. How he said he would not believe Christ had risen unless he put his fingers in his hands and his hand into the side of Jesus. Jesus appeared to him and Thomas believed.

But What About Us? We who have not seen the risen Christ. How can our faith in the resurrection inspire us to go out and spread the good news to all the nations?



I propose that we see Christ around us every day but we don’t always recognize him. He appears daily before each and everyone of us just as he appeared before the disciples some 2000 years ago. But just as the two disciples did not recognize Jesus on the road to Emmaus until the breaking of the bread, so we don’t always recognize Jesus in our lives except in the breaking of the bread. That is why we come to Mass so we can recognize him more easily when he does reveal himself to us.

I see Jesus here in the Church in all the ministries we have. The face of Jesus in the volunteers
handing out food to the needing at the food pantry. The bereavement people visiting families of those who have died to minister to them in times of great sorrow. The music ministry, the ushers, the servers, the EMs who serve the people here in the church in the name of Christ. The office staff who so patiently attend to the needs of the parishioners.

In the hospital, I see Jesus in the nurses that so compassionately take care of the sick. The Pastoral care people who sit and listen to the patients in their time of anxiety. The EMs who bring Church to the patient when the patient can’t come to the Church.

At home I see Jesus in my wife who is so patient with me. I see the love in the eyes of the grandchildren who want to be with us.

Yes Jesus is all around us, always with us. We just have to open our hearts to see him. Jesus appears before us every day. It could even be in a disaster when we respond with our care and empathy. It could be in the loss of a loved one when our friends give us support.

But it is in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist, that we recognize that through Christ’s death come resurrection and hope, a message we must always share.

May we always see Christ in others and be Christ to one another and say “Peace be with you.” May God give you every good thing.

Peace,
Deacon Greg Beckel

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