Easter Reflection - I-A A +A
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
THIS Sunday’s readings continue the unfolding story of the joyous occasion of Easter, Christ’s rising from the dead. In the gospel (John 20:19-31), Jesus appeared to his disciples and showed them his hands and side. Twice, he said to them, “Peace be with you.” He also said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Breathing on them, he uttered, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
How comforting it is to see Jesus offering his disciples peace. The tragic events of their Master and Teacher’s passion and death were too much for the disciples to contain. Perhaps fearing that they might be the next target of persecution and crucifixion by the Jews, they were locked in a room---sad, lonely, frustrated and desperate. Perhaps they were asking themselves and each other, “Have we believed in vain? Did we put our faith and trust in the right Person?”
Gripped with hopelessness, Jesus appeared before their very own eyes. He reunited himself with his friends, not to condemn anyone for running away from him in his darkest hour, but to offer them peace.
Many times we are like these disciples. Unfaithful to the Lord, we are locked by our own cowardice and shame. Yet even in our weaknesses, Jesus comes to us, not to point an accusing finger but to offer us peace. His is the peace that comes from being forgiven for our sins, no matter how grievous these may have been. His is the kind of peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27).
Restored in their relationship with God, the disciples were not only forgiven; they were empowered and sent. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” was Jesus’ command to them. But how can they, weak and feeble men, make this possible?
The answer is that it was not them who will make it so, but God. They were to carry out this Divine mission with conviction and power, but only because of the Spirit of God within them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” Jesus said. “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”
God is sending off, not only these first disciples, but all Christian believers unto the very end of the ages, including you and me. Having received the good news of Christ’s love, we are to share it to the world. We are to preach the gospel, maybe not in the pulpit, but in our everyday conversations with family members, relatives, friends, work mates, class mates, acquaintances and even strangers. And we are to give witness to Christ as Savior and Lord not only with what we say but also with what we do.
But what makes us too convinced of the truth behind our message? By taking God at his word. By the signs and wonders that follow the preaching of God's word. By the miracles of changed lives. And most of all, by the workings of the Holy Spirit, the God who dwells in us.
Let us put our trust on Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith. To the doubting Thomas he said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have come to believe.”
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 24, 2014.