Why this title? Many older Catholics will remember the story about a very significant incident in the life of Peter the Apostle during the persecution of Christians by the Roman...
Last week we began a process of attempting to personalise our faith in, and understanding of, the Resurrection. This means we have to be firmly convinced that Jesus Christ is alive, well, and active in his and our world. Of course this has an associated truth which is the acceptance of the fact that I must be alive, well, and active in his and my world. As was stated last week I should not be living, in fear, apprehension, and doubt, behind closed doors.
In TODAY’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [JOHN 21: 1 – 19] we should not miss the fact that it was John who was the first to recognise the man on the beach as Jesus. “The disciple whom Jesus loved said … ‘it is the Lord’.” A deeper understanding of this fact needs to be seen against the background provided by the Gospel reading on Easter Sunday morning (John 20: 1 – 9). There we read that “The other disciple … also went in, and he saw and believed.” The others, we were told, “as yet … did not know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”
In other words the disciple whom Jesus loved had gone into the tomb and had realised clearly that the TOMB WAS EMPTY. If it was empty, it meant that Jesus was elsewhere, had moved on with and into his future life and living. Now, the believing disciple had to find him!
SO MUST I!
The only start of this journey of discovery must be in the empty tomb itself. In these Easter weeks I must discover and accept as a certain fact that the tomb is empty. I must go into the empty tomb and recognise that it is EMPTY! HE IS NOT THERE IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER. So, where is he? I have to answer that question for myself. It is totally inadequate to have a vague idea that ‘he is in heaven’. My personalised faith in the resurrection must include a heavy dose of “I am with you always, to the end of time.” These are the last words of Matthew’s account of the Gospel. Also make a note of first words of this final sentence – “and he assured …” The Resurrection is not only a fact of faith but it is a fact of life – Jesus’ life, the life of the world, and MY LIFE.At the start of this reflection it was noted that the truth of Jesus’ resurrection is not limited to the fact that Jesus is alive, well, and active in his world but there is the associated truth that I should also be alive and well. The word associated is important in this context because it is linked to the word concomitant which implies a going together, an accompanying thing. Here we could profit by thinking of something Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians
(1 Corinthians 1: 1: 30): “you are in Christ Jesus by God’s act, for God has made him our wisdom; he is our righteousness; in him we are consecrated and set free.” In and through theResurrection our Lord God did something very special to Jesus – and to us. This is the truth that our faith challenges us to personalise. We need to become aware of two essentials: (i) the Resurrection consecrates us; and (ii) we have been set free. We are consecrated (set aside for a purpose) to accompany the Risen Christ in this present world, and to journey with him each day of our living. There is no journey if we lock ourselves away behind closed doors because of fear.There are two further matters which will profit our reflection. First of all, our going with the Lord should never be a casual decision or in an effort to ‘escape’ from the pressures of living. Peter had done just that –
“I am going fishing” and the others simply tagged along – “we will go with you.” They were still afraid.Then, even though John had gone into the tomb and believed he still did not, at the outset, actually recognise Jesus. It was only in the face of the miraculous haul of fish that the penny dropped. We must be wary of only recognising the Risen Christ in the unusual and exceptional. See the very ordinary daily routine evident in Jesus’ invitation –
“come and have breakfast.”“This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.”
The disciples needed time to personalise the fact. SO DO WE – we have eight weeks to do it in.