Easter 3rd Sunday

Acts 5: 27b-32, 40b-41                          Rev. 5: 11-14                            Jn. 21: 1-19



Love has eyes to see what can’t be normally seen.


Resurrection and Love

The resurrection narratives in the gospels inform us that the resurrected body of Jesus was of totally different nature. It was not that which Jesus had before death. At the same time, we cannot come to the conclusion that Jesus was merely a spirit, having no body. It was partly physical in nature and it was because of this he could eat fish (Lk. 24: 43). However it was also metaphysical. It was because of this reason that he could pierce through closed rooms (Jn. 20: 19). Since the risen body of Jesus was of different nature, the disciples did not readily recognize him. Mary Magdalene mistook him for a gardener; The disciples on the way to Emmaus, even after a long talk, did not recognize him; When Jesus appeared by the sea of Tiberius, the apostles, who were with him for about three years, did not recognize him at first (the gospel today – vs. 4).

Another possible reason why the disciples did not recognize the Risen Jesus was that they were not prepared for it and moreover they were in worry and fear. A fearful and worried heart cannot recognize the reality as it is. Emotions in general, fear and worry in particular, give us a distorted perception of reality. When this fear was replaced by love, the disciples were able to readily witness the Risen Jesus. For example, in the  gospel, though the apostles did not recognize Jesus at first, after a few moments, the beloved disciple whom Jesus loved very much and who loved Jesus more, recognized the Risen Jesus. It was he who first said, “It is the Lord” (vs. 7). Mary Magdalene, who did not recognize Jesus at first, after hearing the word ‘Mary,”  could recognize him. (It is said, in psychology, that men are more visual while women are more auditory. Men recognize things easily by sight, whereas women by sound. John could recognize Jesus by sight, and Mary by voice). These two could recognize the Risen Jesus faster and quicker than others because of their love towards him. Similarly, at Emmaus it was at the moment of breaking of the Bread, the supreme moment of love, the disciples recognized Jesus’ true identity.

In other words, the recognition of the Risen Jesus is closely associated with one’s love for Jesus. Whoever has love in one’s heart and faith in one’s soul recognizes the Risen Jesus. We are called to recognize the fact that it is possible to experience the Risen Jesus even today since He is not bound by space and time. In order to experience the Risen Jesus, first of all it is important that we try to get rid of fear and worry. When our mind is clouded with worry and fear, it is like that we are standing in thick fog. We can’t see the things around clearly. At the same time, having a lot of love is like standing under a clear sky. There is an easy recognition of things and persons around. A heart that is full of love reaches out the beloved fast.

Resurrection and Power:

That the experience of the Risen Jesus gave the disciples tremendous courage and vitality that even an organized religion could not withstand them is the next message of the readings today. The resurrection experience gave so much of enthusiasm and power to the apostles that nothing could stop them. The Sanhedrin tried to stop the preaching of the disciples by intimidation, threat, whipping, excommunication etc.. But nothing worked. The more the disciples were persecuted, the more powerful and enthusiastic they became.

When we look at the history of the Church, we understand that the people who had the experience the Risen Jesus became highly energized and they were extraordinary in their enthusiasm and vitality. St. Francis Xavier was such a person. On the way to India, Francis Xavier and his companions spent about 15 days in Mozambique, a southern African nation. They chose an hospital to render their service to the patients. They were so enthusiastic and remarkable in their service, other people marvelled at them. They were amazed to see them spending their time with the sick without break. Francis Xavier says that this is what people spoke among themselves about them: “These people are acting contrary to all the demands of nature; when they should rest, they take on fresh work; when they should be exhausted, they gather greater strength.” Finally Francis Xavier writes, “They don’t know that the Lord is our strength.”

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