The risen Christ stands in the midst of his disciples and wishes them peace. He shows them his hands and his side. And they turn joyful.
The disciples are not at all joyful after the death of Jesus. They are even broken and hopeless.
For not only do they miss their Teacher. They also fear those who condemned him. His death has shattered their hopes and dreams.
And what the disciples are going through comes out clear in what the disciples on the way to Emmaus say. They speak of a “great prophet” whom “they were hoping would be the one to free Israel.”
But since he is dead, though his body is not in the tomb, they leave Jerusalem. And J.L. McKenzie’s Dictionary of the Bible and The Eeerdmans Bible Dictionary say that the location of Emmaus is unknown (see also “Emmaus”). Maybe Luke’s mention of Emmaus suggests that the two are disoriented.
Right away, then, the one who walks with them orients the downcast disciples. He shows them that to know the Messiah who will free Israel, they cannot set aside his passion and death.
And Jesus does the same with the disciples who are in a house with locked doors. For he has no sooner stood in their midst, and wished them peace, than he shows them his hands and his side. And that is why they not only recognize him but they also turn joyful.
To be joyful, we have to look for joy where one finds it.
Christ teaches those who are Jerusalem and those who are on their way to Emmaus where joy lies. He teaches the same to us today.
And those who are truly joyful are not those who feel secure, strong and brave. That is to say, those whom others envy in the world (Ps 73).
Joyful, rather, are those whom the world deems throwable: the insecure, the fearful, the weak. Their insecurities, fears and weaknesses make them trust God wholly (Ps 2). They acknowledge their lack of faith, then quickly cry out, “My Lord and my God!” That is why they please him.
And if we trust him so, we weak folks will be strong. Weak and throwable, then, we will show God’s strength and worth.
So then, as Pope Francis warns us, we should not look for joy in the wrong places. To be joyful, we must know that joy comes from the awareness that we are loved freely. That we are not alone, and that to share what is ours is key.
And, of course, we have to love; hence, have to go out of ourselves. Jesus does send us, too, and for this he breathes on us. For he wants us to love as he does, to so love that we give our bodies up and shed our blood. We will thus love with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brow (SV.EN XI:32). Thus, too, shall we conquer the world. Besides, we will assure that we will be forever joyful for following Jesus to the end (SV.EN III:384).
Lord Jesus, we are joyful, for you are with us. Grant that we never lose sight of you.
11 April 2021
Second Sunday of Easter (B)
Acts 4, 32-35; 1 Jn 5, 1-6; Jn 20, 19-31