The Sea of Galilee (Genesareth) with the Golan Heights in the background. Here Jesus appeared to His Disciples after the Resurrection.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
On the third day Christ rose from the dead. A crowd of witnesses testifies to the reality of this essential mystery on which our faith rests. To this fact St. Paul refers when he says, If Christ is not raised, your faith is worthless. You are still in your sins. (1 Cor 15:17).
For the 40 days of Lent we pray and fast in remembrance of our Lords suffering and cruel death. In striving to imitate Him we make atonement also for our own frequent failures to be faithful to His teaching. We follow Christ to Calvary in order to share in His victory over sin and death.
How fitting, then, that in the peace and joy of the 40 days of the Paschal season we should also spend some time in the company of the risen Savior! This is the time to reflect more deeply on the meaning of our Lords unique triumph at Easter.
A prayerful reading of holy Scripture suggests many insights into the mystery of the risen Christ, His presence and power. We will note, for example, how maddeningly slow His chosen apostles were to believe He had truly risen from the dead. Despite the Lords predictions of the fate in store for Him, they did not comprehend.
With the benefit of our 2,000 years of hindsight we might be tempted to consider the apostles very stupid if we did not recall our own heedlessness. With less excuse how often do we fail to mind the Lords warnings and graces! In a sense we should be grateful to stubborn Thomas whose incredulity gave way, at last, to his magnificent confession, My Lord and my God. Our Saviors rejoinder, Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believed, remains an abiding consolation to our faltering faith.
Still, it is amazing that the risen Christ had to upbraid His followers; He took them to task for their disbelief and their stubbornness since they put no faith in those who had seen Him after He had been raised. (Mk 16:14).
Of the risen Christs many appearances to His chosen witnesses it is St. Luke alone who narrates the encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus that first Easter Sunday. In their dejected state they failed to recognize the risen Lord even after He had explained the Scriptures that referred to His death and resurrection. It was only in the breaking of the bread that their eyes were finally opened.
The risen Lord, as we know, appeared to His followers many times. In the time after His suffering He showed them in many convincing ways that He was alive appearing to them over the course of 40 days, and speaking to them about the reign of God. (Acts 1:3).
Slowly and gradually, then, the timid, fearful disciples were made ready to receive the inpouring of the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Spirit finally changed them into the bold, intrepid witnesses who announced Christs message first in Jerusalem, itself, then throughout Palestine and, finally, to the ends of the earth.
As it was for His apostles and first disciples, the Paschal season can be for us today a period of joy and gladness. It is a time for us to strengthen our faith in the risen Savior by praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, by searching the Scriptures, and by recognizing Him in the fervent celebration of the Eucharist.
Our risen Lord now dwells in glory with the Father. Seated at Gods right hand, He is always interceding for us whom He redeemed. I solemnly assure you, He promises us, the man who has faith in me will do the works I do, and greater than these. (Jn 14:12). The message given first in Jerusalem must be carried to every corner of the world to the very end of time. Our apostolate is to witness in our own place to the reality and consequence of the risen Christs victory. He tells us today, Have faith, I have overcome the world.
F.X. Morelle, a business executive, has long been concerned for the progress of Christ’s Church in the Lord’s homeland.