THE SECRET OF THE RESURRECTION
They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. (Gospel)
Some of you may remember one of the early TV program called “I’ve Got A Secret?” which was similar to “What’s My Line?. A panel of popular personalities would try to guess the secret of a guest while hints were added upon hint to help the process of discovering the secret such as: I crashed a presidential VIP party in Washington.
We all have secrets. Some we cannot wait to tell someone. Others we hope will never be told such as the secret that I arrived at St. Joseph’s Church for 7 am instead of 8 am a few weeks ago. It was my second time there and for some reason had I registered 7 am as the first Mass of the weekend. It was a nice early morning drive both times, back and forth, but it won’t happen again!
Following the resurrection of Jesus, there is a mystery, a secret that remains hidden in the events of this new life Jesus has come to offer. After giving us the eyes of love and the eyes of faith to be able to receive the secret, Jesus begins to unveil the secret of his resurrection for us all to enter the mystery. Jesus gives us three hints: his peace, his presence and his purpose.
The Apostles were in turmoil and confusion after the death of Jesus. For this reason, after reassuring the two disciples at the breaking of bread at Emmaus, the Lord now appears to the other disciples and offers them the gift of Peace. Inner peace breaks down the walls that break us away from solid sources of life and goodness. Peace removes obstacles to healthy relationships and brings a change of heart to those who struggle with life’s offerings.
Whenever a Christian soul comes for counsel or reconciliation, it is my first desire to bring peace to that soul. I remember asking the Lord in my youthful priesthood to help me be not so much healer of bodies, but a healer of souls through the gift of peace. Peace is the beginning of all reconciliation and repentance. There can be no real reconciling without repentance and no real repentance without reconciliation. I cannot say I am sorry for having contributed to a broken relationship without doing something to mend that relationship. Likewise, I cannot claim to be repentant if I do not make efforts to forgive and be forgiven. Jesus comes to his disciples wanting to bring them new life, new breath, new hope, new happiness.
Peace is always the first sign of new life within our spirit and among each other. Therefore, seek peace, not war; seek reconciliation, not rejection; seek healing of repentance, not spiteful hostility. Like a young lady once told me in all honesty: “I never get even, I just become a witch”. With that attitude, you can bet that peace was not part of her spiritual discovery. If and when it might have been, it was but a moment of light in the dark of lonely suffering. We have to allow the Lord to ask us: “why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Jesus wants to reveal to his disciples the second gift of the resurrection: his continued presence among them. No longer do we have reason to fear or despair. Our Savior has returned with new life for us all. The Apostles counted upon him before his death and we can count on him now after his victory over Death. The disciples from Emmaus recounted how they got to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Again, Jesus wants to prove his true presence at the sharing of a meal. When we gather to worship, we do so not to come as people watchers like travelers in a train station or at an airport while awaiting the arrival of their scheduled transportation. We are here to discover the presence of Christ in the midst of our daily lives. Our hearts are set on the one who comes not on the details of those who prepare his coming.
Sometimes you cannot help but wonder why people gather at Mass, like this gentleman who accosted me after the Mass to tell me I had not genuflected before receiving Communion or the young lady who told me I had mixed the old Creed with the new Creed. My response was simply: Is that all you got out of the Mass? We are dealing with more than ritual, words, music, and action here, we are striving to recognize and be changed by the mystical and sacramental presence of Jesus who comes to console, strengthen and revitalize us in our faith while we live out our daily responsibilities and begin to participate more effectively in the life Jesus brings to us.
Sometimes we spend too much time trying to find where Jesus is not rather than trying to respond to where Jesus is found in our sacred meal. Let us rejoice in what gathers and unites us rather than find sorrow with what reflects our human weaknesses. If we look for the absence of Jesus, we will not find his outstanding presence that brings new life to a people. Our message to each other should not be what is lacking, but what is transforming in the holy gathering of the faithful disciples of today. Sharing the Christian life symbolized in the fish and breaking the bread of unity in Communion, this is what our gatherings are all about.
Only as positive observers can we finally discover the third gift of the resurrection, namely the purpose for which Jesus remains among us. Explaining the Scriptures to his disciples, he reminds them and us that having heard and seen the marvel of his presence, we have become witnesses of all this. The final reason for his return among us is that we might do what he sends all the others to accomplish, namely, to make known the hope and life Jesus brings into our lives.
We are called to be messengers of the Good News. Our lives, our observations, our commitment should be to bring the healing grace of Christ’s presence and peace into the life of all of humanity. Our faces must reflect the joy of our celebrations. Our hearts should convey the peace of true reconciliation and repentance. Our working with one another must echo the message of joy and new life Jesus brings among us. We best make known the true Resurrection of Christ when we reflect the quality of grace that surrounds us rather than criticize the emptiness that separates us.
How is Jesus entering in the lives of the people at Our Lady of the Sierra or St. Joseph the Worker, or St. Dominic, or Our Lady of the Snows? Love and faith call us to be witnesses of joy. Do not leave this celebration today without letting your hearts burn within as Christ enters among us and unleashes his gifts of peace, presence and purpose. Make yours the prayer of the psalmist: “Lord, let your face shine upon us” today.