The World Awaits Our Witness
April 22, 2017 (readings)
Saturday in the Octave of Easter
When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, 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.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you in heaven forever. I need to dwell more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others to heaven with me.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace of a profound apostolic zeal.
1. A Saint Who Is Sad Is One Sad Saint: “When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.” From these lines of scripture, we can see the power our emotions can exercise over our faith. Melancholy can affect our trust. Perhaps we have been hurt by others, and our sorrows are as real as those of the disciples. But let us not get accustomed to our tears; rather, with the courage and help of Our Lord, let us put aside past resentments and pain. After all, if his love is enough to convert our hearts, what grounds do we have to think that it is not powerful enough to convert the hearts and lives of those who hurt us? Humanity will not be converted by the distressed. We should be willing to give the world a joyful witness to the Resurrection, for the source of our joy is in the Lord, not in the hands of our adversaries.
2. Rebuked for Unbelief and Hardness of Heart: We may be a bit scandalized at Our Lord’s apparent lack of understanding and sympathy towards his disciples who were mourning his tragic loss. Sometimes though, a good shaking-up is required to slough off a melancholic spirit and to switch us from an inordinate self-love and self-pity to a concern for others. In moments when we begin to despair and feel suffocated by our sufferings, St. Paul reminds us to have hope: “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). We must never allow anything to rob us of our trust in Christ. He is faithful to his promises.
3. We Are to Be Witnesses to His Love: Despite their unbelief, Our Lord did not retract his gift of redemption or lessen their responsibility for the mission. “It is not to a dull everyday routine that we return.… We need to imitate the zeal of the Apostle Paul: ‘Straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14)’” (Saint John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 59). Our encounter of faith with the Risen Lord cannot be kept solely for the private sphere of our life. Rather, it needs to draw us to be zealous in proclaiming him to others. The sense of Christ’s command—“Go into the whole world”—is to proclaim him to as many others as possible.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have taken away from this meditation the lesson that it is time for me to wake from my slumber to fulfill your command. I must “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Help me to realize that my past sinfulness and disbelief do not excuse me from this mission.
Resolution: The next time I find a person struggling or in turmoil, I will offer to pray with them—or at least for them if they decline.
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