The Gospel Today
Thursday in the Octave of Easter
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.”
The happiness and triumph brought by the resurrection of Jesus is being extended up to this day. We are still in the octave of Easter, where we are invited to still reflect on the mystery of the rising of Jesus to new life after three days of His passion and death on the cross. Jesus greeted His disciples while they were gathered in a locked room because of their fear of the Jews. “Peace be with you.” (Mt.24:38) This greeting of Jesus brought different reactions to the disciples. Some were startled while others were terrified. These are normal reactions of people who are not expecting the presence of somebody. We need to understand that the disciples were coming from a tragic experience of the death of Jesus, of their Master and Teacher. This meant, for most of them, a defeat of their purpose and mission. The lost of their leader would mean the end of their journey and the start of going back to their old ways of life. Their greatest dilemma was their fear of the Jews and leaders of their country for they may also experience the pains and suffering that their leader had undergone. Yet, Jesus chose to greet them with peace amidst all these doubts and questions on the part of His disciples.
The word peace, as well as love, are one of the most used words nowadays. Many understand peace as the absence of war or conflict. When there is no problem against partners or people there is peace. But, is this the peace that Jesus is telling in the Gospel? When Jesus greeted His disciples, ‘peace be with you’, He was not only saying “hi” and “hello” to them. He was actually encouraging and inviting them to be strong and joyful because He is in their midst once more. Jesus was not only offering them a normal greeting but an important message of joy and success. He was telling them to fear no more because He already succeeded everything that they might fear of. He was greeting them peace as an assurance of a life of serenity and calmness in His company.
Life here in the seminary is a continuous struggle for peace and serenity. The fact that I am living with people of different personalities, culture orientations and various views in life, there are many instances when the reign of peace in the community is being triggered and challenged. Our differences or should I say, our uniqueness cause us to have our own and peculiar way of dealing and interpreting the things that are happening around us. I myself have my own manner and strategy in living and accepting what life is offering me. My own biases most of the times hinder me to see the greater and wider picture of what is happening. I am usually blinded by my interests and leaning to my own benefits. Same experiences as mine would be present in the places where we are present: at home, in school and offices, in public places and even inside the Church. Material things around us normally bring distractions and hinder open communication and free way of dealing with others. We are bombarded and controlled by our gadgets that even the simple way of chatting with one another is very hard to do. Topics of our dialogue and chit-chats with our peers are normally not about personal life but about the latest inventions. These things bring too much frustration to us. In these situations, the peace that Jesus was telling and offering us would be impossible to reign.
We are invited by the Gospel to be open to the invitation of Jesus of embracing and accepting once more in an open and positive way the peace that he was telling. Let us live in the peace of Christ; in his joy, happiness, serenity which is brought about by His triumph against death and sin. Let us find true peace only in the resurrected Christ.