The Risen Christ fills us with his gifts
2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A (Jn 20:19-31)
Feast of Christ, King of Mercy, April 23, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THE disciples had locked themselves up in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews. They had every reason to be afraid. And their hearts were locked, too – locked with the chains and bars of confusion, disappointment, for what happened to Jesus, and remorse for their cowardice when they deserted him . . . . They knew they had not put up a great show of solidarity in the face of their Master’s arrest. And now that he had been humiliated, killed, and buried, their lives had been plunged into an abyss of shame, meaninglessness and discouragement.
But all of a sudden, unexpectedly, Jesus appeared in their midst, in spite of all those locks, both material and spiritual. Nothing could stop him. He was not there to show off or to get even with the disciples who deserted him. In his mercy and love he had come to offer gifts–the gifts/fruits of his resurrection: his presence, his peace, his joy, the participation in his mission, and his Spirit.
These gifts were the tangible signs of his enduring and forgiving love. They were plenteous and most precious gifts. They were meant for each and every one of his disciples, including the latecomer and slow-to-believe Thomas.
Christ’s gifts are not only for his disciples gathered in the Upper Room, but for all because his love encompasses every human being and endures for ever. No one is excluded by Jesus, not even the greatest sinners.
But gifts are gifts. They are not impositions. They can be accepted or ignored, or even disdainfully rejected. All that Jesus can do is offer them and encourage all to accept them with grateful appreciation.
On our part, we must have a clear idea of the immense value of the gifts, the great difference for the better that they can make in our lives. By making us share in his mission, the Risen Christ raises us to an unprecedented dignity: the honor of being sent to all mankind as signs and bearers of God’s love and of the Good News. By receiving from Jesus the gift of the Spirit of Holiness, we become the privileged instruments of God’s forgiveness and sanctification.
We should also become aware of the immense loss we will inflict on ourselves if we refuse them. The choice between accepting or rejecting Christ’s gifts is not like the choice between colors or what shoes to wear. Rather, it is a choice between life and death. So much is at stake.
Christ’s gifts are forever. They are for us, today, as they were for his disciples on the first Easter day. And they will be for all believers, till the end of time. His Spirit makes them present and alive in every generation. In this way, all feelings of dejection, confusion, anxiety and fear . . . are banned, and are replaced by that sublime peace and joy which the Risen Christ alone can give. Thus, Easter becomes always and everywhere the lasting season of a renewed mankind. All that we have to do is stretch out our hands in acceptance and proclaim, “Thank you, My Lord and my God!”