Second Sunday of Easter, Year A-2011

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
Your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3—NAB)

Jesus surprises those locked up in a conclave, so to speak, for fear of the Jews. Showing that he holds no grudge against those who have not been altogether faithful, he gives them the greeting of peace, not once but twice. He also shows them his hands and his side, which fills them with joy, certain now that it is really Jesus who is standing in their midst.

As though all this gesture of reassuring faithfulness on his part were not enough, Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit and entrusts to these recipients of peace and reconciliation the mission of sharing with others the same peace and reconciliation. This mission essentially consists in bearing witness to Jesus, being the presence of Jesus through the Spirit and compelling others to have their sins either forgiven, by accepting Jesus, or retained by rejecting him (cf. Jn. 3:19-20; 9:39-41; 12:44-50; 15:26-27) [1].

But it is not easy to bear witness to Jesus. In the first place, as the showing of his hands and his side indicates, the Risen One is the Crucified One, the one who ascended is also the one who descended (cf. Eph. 4:10). How disorienting for human beings to discover that God’s love is revealed to the fullest extent through Jesus death by crucifixion [2]! How does one explain that God, obviously neither thinking nor acting like human beings, sees to it that wisdom and strength spring from foolishness and weakness? No wonder, then, that this shocking and scandalous idea of glory through shame, of profit through loss, of salvation through perdition, of fullness through self-emptying, sends us believers plumbing the law and the prophets, the Holy Scriptures, for clues to understanding the incomprehensible [3].

In the second place, it seems Jesus disappears in the same manner that he appears—suddenly, just like that. Yes, sure, he is at the Father’s right hand and the cloud of divine glory hides him from our sight. But he seems to us to have disappeared largely, I think, because of the shake-up brought about by the crucifixion meaning exaltation or death spelling life. With things thus turned upside down and inside out [4], we find it hard even up to now to see as God sees, that is, to look into the heart, accustomed that we human beings are to seeing the appearance. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, and we only know partially (1 Cor. 13:12). Without being aware, we show indifference toward Jesus, if we do not persecute him at all. At present we eat of the bread that is broken and drink from the cup of blessing, recognizing the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist although we fail occasionally to discern the whole of his body and to divide goods according to each one’s need.

But then we will see face to face and we will know as fully as we are known. And for the last time Jesus will surprise us when he tells us, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” The surprise will not be pleasant for those who will hear, “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” Then it will be very clearly revealed who shall have accepted Jesus and who shall have rejected him, who will be proclaimed blessed for loving and believing without seeing or cursed for failing to love and to believe even after seeing, whose sins will be forgiven and whose sins will be retained, who will joyfully inherit the eternal kingdom without borders and who will be forever locked up, cowering in fear, in a suffocating hole of fire. Blessed will be those, of course, who shall have lived in Jesus Christ by the death of Jesus Christ, those who shall have died in Jesus Christ by the life of Jesus Christ, those who shall have spent their life hidden in Jesus Christ and full of Jesus Christ, living and dying in the service of the poor into whom the Risen Crucified blends [5].


NOTES:

[1] Inter-Varsity Press New Testament Commentaries at http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/John/Mary-Magdalene-Two-Disciples (accessed April 27, 2011).
[2] “The shocking truth about Easter” at http://www.ncronline.org/news/shocking-truth-about-easter (accessed April 27, 2011).
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.; cf. also Robert P. Maloney, C.M., “An Upside-Down Sign: The Church of Paradox,” America (November 22, 1997) 6-11.
[5] P. Coste I, 295; III, 392.