The disciples were not honor roll students. They were more what we would call “slow learners”. Took a lot of “show and tell” for them to grasp the message of freedom that Jesus wanted them to understand.
Old patterns of thinking are difficult to unlearn, especially if we have heard them from childhood. The disciples were Jewish. They grew up knowing: we are born, we live, we die. Not much that anyone can do about the cycle of life. However, Jesus brought a new way of looking at reality—radically different. The Lord told them several times that He was going to be killed and be raised on the third day. Went in one ear and out the other. Because the disciples, like us, avoided the topic of death. We’d rather talk about the weather, the economy, the problems of the world, but not about death. Very few people write a “Last Will and Testament”, which becomes problematic for the next of kin. “Where do you want to be buried? Do you want a coffin or to be cremated?” “I don’t know and I don’t care. You all do whatever you want with what’s left over.” That’s not fair. We need to leave instructions about our wishes. Our family should not have to play the guessing game about our preferences. Naturally we won’t be there, but instructions about our funeral lessen the tension surrounding death. By the way, the Catholic Church allows cremation but the ashes have to be buried. They cannot be kept at home or spread at the beach or divided. The ashes are the body of the person and must be treated reverently—just like the body in the coffin. Given the options available, we need to talk—need to plan—Jesus did.
Remember the time that the woman anointed His feet with oil. Some objected saying that the oil could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus said, “Don’t stop her. She is anticipating my death, my burial.” That certainly is one way to get the smile off of people’s faces—a real party smasher. As soon as death is mentioned we look away. Our reaction is normal. Everything in our being clings to life—life as we know—as we can comprehend. We like to be in control. We want to know what is going to happen next. In death we have no control. Like Jesus, we are called to surrender. He stepped into the darkness.
“Father if this cup can pass, let it pass. Yet, not my will but Yours be done.” Jesus was human. No 33-year man wants to die. He knew that death is not the end, rather the beginning. Since the disciples had serious doubts when Jesus spoke to them about His future, they could not believe they were seeing His Resurrected body—they thought He was a ghost. Fear is more common than trust. The mind needs a logical explanation. Therefore, Jesus ate with them and invited them to touch Him. “See for yourselves. I’m real.” Jesus Christ has promised us eternal life in Him—not just existence. Once we die to this life, we will not just be a spirit floating in space like a ghost. We will have a glorified body like Our Lord. Regardless of our limitations, our sins, our bad judgments—heaven will be our home. Meanwhile, we get in shape by trusting life. Things do not always go the way we plan. No time to panic. The Eucharist is our ticket. Jesus is in the Blessed Sacrament—not as a ghost. He is truly present to give us courage.
Nothing can disturb our peace when we walk in Faith. One day each of us will be called to surrender completely. He is waiting to give us life that will last forever.