DESERTION AND DENIALS, DOUBTS AND DISBELIEF

This reflection is based on Luke 24:35-48.

From all indication, what we have today is a happy reunion of sorts: The disciples, disheartened and even traumatized by the horrible crucifixion and death of their Master, suddenly find him once again in their midst. To prove that he’s no ghost, the Risen Lord shows them the wounds in his hands and feet, and even takes a little midnight snack before their very eyes (It must have been around midnight, the two disciples having interrupted their supper and hurried back from Emmaus).

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It’s Jesus’ way of telling his disciples: “It is I! I am real! And I’m back!”

There are, however, several significant back stories behind this apparently glad occasion. And our only clue from the account is Jesus’ somewhat surprising question to them: “Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts?”

It seems that no one has rushed to embrace their beloved teacher; they haven’t exactly been jumping up and joy in exultation. Needless to say, they are shocked by the return of someone dead–who wouldn’t be?–but there is more to their disquiet.

For these same disciples have abandoned the Lord when he most needed them, scampering away the night of his arrest, not to mention Peter’s repeated denials to save his own skin. To top it all, the women’s talk of an empty tomb that very same day has been dismissed precisely as empty. “They did not believe,” Luke tells us simply in an earlier verse (24:11).

So when our Lord finally shows himself to the Eleven that night, there is a pretty large elephant in the room: the disciples’ desertion, denials, doubts, and disbelief. But the Risen Lord does not bother to point it out to them, and though he has every right to do so, neither does he accuse them of any of it. In fact, he shows up as soon as the Emmaus couple finishes their story, almost as if to prevent the Eleven from again expressing doubt and disbelief.

Instead the Risen One invites the Eleven to believe, going out of his way to show them the wounds in his hands and feet–and even demonstrating his appetite!

For me, this is the wonderful message of today’s Gospel: Not just that Jesus is indeed risen, but also that this Risen Lord allows nothing to stand in his way in inviting us to believe. Just as he can enter rooms despite locked doors, he will come into our hearts even if we have closed them ourselves with our grievous sins and tenuous faith. No desertion, no denial, no doubt, and no disbelief can shut the Lord away from us.

If this Easter you still find some doubts and disbelief in yourself, don’t lose heart. The Risen Lord won’t let them stand in his way. Let us thank the Lord for having a heart so forgiving and so magnanimous it refuses to give up on us despite ourselves.

 

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19 thoughts on “DESERTION AND DENIALS, DOUBTS AND DISBELIEF”

  1. Thank you Fr. J for a beautiful homily just like the disciples maybe if I was born that time I will feel what they felt when Jesus appear in front of me. Due to my faults of denying Him like Peter to save my skin the same mixed emotions will control me. An assurance that Jesus is risen and has forgiven me as if nothing happened has strengthened my faith and will hold on to His promise that He is with me till the end of time.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful reflection. Am just wondering of Jesus ate with the remaining 11 apostles or was Thomas not with them when they had their dinner again..

    1. Good question! Thomas’ absence at this first meeting between the Risen Lord and the 11 is recounted in the Johanine version of this story. As you know, the evangelists were more concerned about meaning of an event than its actual historical details; hence, the confusion sometimes.

  3. I
    Thank you. In my all my failuresto respond to God’s love and mercy, my continuing defects. I wonder if I am worthy to ask God to forgive me again and most of all hear my prayer and grant my petition. Twice hit by two different cancers , my tears cloud my vision and it is so hard to “see” Jesus with love and his mercy.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your two bouts with cancer. My prayers are with you. I hope you know that this has nothing to do with your spiritual state; it is really a mystery. But to answer your first question, no one among us is worthy because God’s love and mercy is a gift freely given to us. Also re the tears that cloud your vision: Remember what Pope Francis said – Some realities can be perceived only with eyes cleansed with tears.

      1. Thanks Sylvette, for sharing your story.

        Thanks Fr. J for echoing Pope F’s words – a reminder to us all. Thanks too for continuing the discourse and dialogue that began during your online retreat. For indeed, we go forth too and our “journeys” parallel that of the first disciples.

        Peace, prayers and Easter joy to both of you.

        1. Thank you , father. God has used you to raise me up. I know that my agony is a minuscule agony compared to what Jesus had in Gethsamane. Human as I am ! I cry like a marshmallow with a pinprick compared to others who suffer more . You made me remember that God is Love and with a happy heart I take this day and onwards.

          1. Thanks for your sharing, Suzette. It is actually a very normal thing — to lose perspective and to think that our burdens are the heaviest. Praying over what our Lord went through can be sobering and can give us the bigger picture. Having said that, I have to remind you not to be too harsh on yourself. Our burdens are real and the pain they bring cannot be dismissed. But the Lord understands as He always does.

  4. i am very much enlightened that despite of my disbeliefs and denials there he is ready to embrace me.

  5. It is comforting to realize that in spite of myself, my lack of faith in His presence in especially trying times, He comes into me Quietly in my disquiet. Ready and waiting for me to break bread with Him.

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