Last night we were under tornado watch, flash flood watch, strong winds watch. However, nothing happened. Guess we assume the worse. Just like the disciples, they assumed the worse—trapped in fear of loosing their life. Jesus came and said, “Peace be with you. Why are you troubled?”
What a thing to ask! Of course they were troubled. They had a long list of troubles. All their hopes had come tumbling down with the death of Jesus. He was supposed to be the liberator, the one who was going to sock it to the Romans, Jesus was going to set Israel free. All hope died at the crucifixion. The women were the only ones brave enough to have stayed until the end—prepared the body for burial and helped to put Him in the tomb. Meanwhile the men were hiding—locked behind closed doors—because they thought that they would be next. Fear is a crippling emotion. When we are afraid we can be creative. Usually we become suspicious of others. Our level of trust goes down—can seem like the whole world is out to get us. 99% of our fears will never happen. We’ve all heard the expression, “That person is afraid of his/her own shadow.” The “unknown” frightens us, especially the reality of death. Perhaps that’s the reason that horror films are so popular. Ghosts, zombies, the walking dead—all popular themes that sell movies. However, we might forget that children are impressionable. What they see on TV or the movies can have permanent damage on their soul. Adults are responsible for the monitoring of what children watch.
Obviously the disciples had fears. When Jesus appeared before them after the Resurrection they thought that they were seeing a ghost. We really can’t blame them. After all, they had been seen Jesus die. When we know someone has died we don’t expect to see them again on this side of eternity. Fear, joy, guilt—all the emotions bombarded them from every side. They could not speak. We might guess that they didn’t know what to say. They just stood still—helpless. Perhaps that exactly where Jesus wanted them—finally with their mouth shut—finally ready to listen. Then like a flashback—all that Jesus had said started to make sense. The suffering, the death, the rising from the dead. Notice all the pain that transpired before they were ready to listen. Might see ourselves in a similar situation. No spiritual maturity can happen until we have experienced pain.
The cost of discipleship comes at a high price. Countless of the early Christians died for what they believed, but they were no longer afraid. Seeing Jesus alive again restored their faith. They became true witnesses of the Gospel message. Recognizing their unworthiness, they could preach to others. “Hey, the pettiness of our sins does not matter any more. Jesus has paid the price. Death has no more power.” Now it’s our turn. We are called to be witnesses of the presence of Christ in our world. Doesn’t mean we need to find a soapbox on a street corner. The witnessing can happen in our home, our school, where we work. In the ordinariness of life we give testimony that we have faith. For example, by not getting discouraged when things don’t go our way, when people betray us, the times we feel lonely. All part of being alive—putting up with the limitations of life. People are watching, especially the folks whose faith is weak. Fact is that we have an advantage over the early Christians because of Eucharist. The Risen Christ is present to us and rather than asking us for something to eat, He gives us Himself to eat.
The promise is real. We will not taste of death because He has given us the bread of everlasting life. We are witnesses of these things.