The Gospel Today
Saturday in the Octave of Easter
he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,
out of whom he had driven seven demons.
She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping.
When they heard that he was alive
and had been seen by her, they did not believe.After this he appeared in another form
to two of them walking along on their way to the country.
They returned and told the others;
but they did not believe them either.
But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them
and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart
because they had not believed those
who saw him after he had been raised.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
To believe in something or someone, sometimes it entails a process of proving and validating. In our complex and worldly environment, there is so much information, data, news, and events that necessitates checking and validation for us to believe. There are occasions and situations that we encounter, where making assumption based on unverified sources or data, are dangerous and risky. I recall that during the rescue and retrieval operations after Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the province of Tacloban, there have been confusing reports regarding the number of causalities brought about by the typhoon. Because of the magnitude and overwhelming devastation, it is a Herculean task to match the numbers with the actual dead bodies for confirmation and verification.
The gospel for today narrated the unbelief of the Apostles concerning the reported resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. When Jesus appeared to the Eleven, they were admonished by our Risen Lord for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they were still full and consumed with doubts after two incidents of His appearances to Mary Magdalene and the two disciples.
In the context of faith and the spiritual realm of our lives, to believe goes beyond our senses because things and events are seen through the language of the heart. Furthermore, to believe does not necessarily require the process of validation and confirmation, but entails trusting and surrendering of one’s own pain, suffering, trials and difficulties. It is good to ask, why do the disciples fail to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ has already resurrected? May be because they remained and nursed their state of pain, a sense of guilt for abandoning Jesus during his passion, mourning, and weeping.
On the other hand, we can also relate with what the Apostles have experienced. May be most of us, in one way or another have experienced doubts, unbelief, and desolation. And in these critical moments, we ask ourselves why it is difficult to find the joy of the Risen Christ in our lives — in the midst of trials, difficulties, and challenges. Sometimes, we even ask God directly, why did You abandon me? Is it for me to feel what Christ had felt when He was also abandoned by His closest and dearest friends? Or is it for us to learn the lessons of life in a hard way?
I believe that the great invitation of the gospel is for me to unclutter my mind and dispose myself to see things through the language of my heart. The language of the heart that teaches me to fully trust and surrender my plans to our Lord Jesus Christ. This entails going beyond my pains, challenges, frustrations, even success, prestige, wealth, and accomplishments in life. This means emptying myself of all of these preoccupations so that I am able to see clearly the joy and blessings of the Risen Christ in the ordinary experiences of my life. As a priest-in-process, this is manifested when I am more loving, forgiving, and tolerant with my fellow brothers in the community, despite tensions and disagreements. This means that I need not capitalize on our differences, but instead focus on our goal of wanting to be better persons for the greater glory of God.