Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19; 1Jn 2: 1-5; Luke 24:35-48
The Appearance to the Disciples in Jerusalem
I was talking to a security guard who was assigned to a building with many offices. He told me that one evening when it was his time to check if there were still employees or bystanders stayed there, he passed by an office where an employee died due to cardiac arrest. Outside of that office he saw a chair being lifted from the floor and placed on top of the table. Puzzled by what he saw, he returned the chair in its original position and only to see again that it moved. But he repeated what he did. For the third time the chair moved, he fled and ran towards the main door of the building. Are ghost for real?
In today’s gospel, Jesus sees to it to make His disciples realize that He is indeed risen from the dead. He allows them to see and touch Him and finally eats in front of them in order to show them that they are not seeing a ghost but a living human being. Then He explains to them what is written in the Bible of what had happened about Him, that is, His death and resurrection. And this is according to the plan of God, to save the people from their sins. That is why He said: “Thus it is likewise written that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.”
Based on this gospel reading, I would like to invite you to reflect on two things:
First, there are things which for us should not be happened but in God’s wise decision, it must be happened. There are things that we want to happen but they don’t turn out the way we want to be. It is because God has a hidden reason for letting the unwanted event to happen.
A concrete example is given by Bishop Teodoro Bacani, DD in his homily book, The Good News Church. I’m sure you can still remember that Air Philippines plane which crashed in Samal Island. Bishop Bacani said that one passenger who was supposed to take that plane have felt very bad. It was because he failed to catch up with his flight. But how happy he must been when he learned later that had he made it to the plane on time, he would certainly have died with the others.
Bishop Bacani also said in his homily book that when he interviewed a couple to be married, he asked them how they met each other. The woman told the Bishop that she was driving home from Baguio with a female companion. Somewhere in Pangasinan she got a flat tire. She tried changing the flat tire but she could not unscrew it. She tried flagging down other vehicles in order to get help. One car stopped. A man came down and responded to her call for help. That way she met her future husband. Again, she must have felt unfortunate to get a flat tire and even more sorry that she could not unscrew it. But God used that mishap to pursue his plan regarding her. It was God’s means of making her meet her future husband.
Second is, we are Jesus’ witnesses of His resurrection until today. In today’s gospel Jesus instructs His disciples to be His witnesses to all nations. He says to them, “You are witnesses of these things.” This is what we find in Saint Peter in our first reading, he witnessed.
Witnessing is more than telling people about the life of Jesus who lived two thousand years ago. It is because we can do that. Witnessing to Jesus is more than testifying that He is risen. The soldiers guarding the tomb did that. Witnessing to Jesus is testifying by our lives that the power of the Risen Jesus has touched us and transformed us in the most remarkable way imaginable. Witnessing to Jesus is letting Jesus speak through us to other people. A witness is the one who says, “I know it and I will show it to you.” To witness is a challenge in which Christ commands, ‘Go and show the people that you have met me and experience me.” What are the signs that we witness? Fr. Apalisok in his homily book, Markings on the Desert (Year B), said that there is no need that we have to flagellate our bodies or put thumbtacks on our knees when we pray. It is in the faithful performance of the duties in our respective vocations that we can become effective witnesses. The hurts in our hearts, aching bodies, soiled hands, trembling knees and sore feet, all because of our love and fidelity to the people around us, are evidence of love. But the most powerful witness to Jesus often takes place without the people involved being aware of it.
During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln had a strapping athletic young man as his secretary.
In those days before office machinery, such a man would literally be pushing a pen or a pencil.
This particular young man was not happy about it. He wanted to get out where the action was on the battlefield. He wanted to go and do great things for his country. He was quite willing to die, if necessary. So he kept complaining to Lincoln about the women’s work he was doing, when he could be in uniform confronting the enemy.
After hearing this usual complaint one day, Lincoln stared at him, rubbed his hands in his beard and said in his philosophical way, “Young man as I see it, you are quite willing to die for your country but you are not willing to live for it.”
Martyrs, a Greek word for witnesses, give their lives by dying or by living.
At the end let us reflect these words coming from a letter of Bishop Duval of France. He said about witnessing: “No matter how beautifully expressed, abstract ideas rarely moved people. But let a person come forward, a living person, capable of speaking to the heart; let truth flows from the person’s life and let the person’s power be matched by an equal gift of love: then people will listen and the dawn of better days will brighten our skies.”
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B
See Homily Option