Friendship over a Meal

April 18, 2021 – Third Sunday of Easter

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/041821.cfm)

“Have you anything to eat?” Jesus asked his disciples. It was a very ordinary question from Jesus yet, this question brought the disciples into a deeper realization of themselves and a deeper encounter with the Risen Jesus in a meal, in a form of sharing food.

In many cultures, a shared meal plays a vital role. Sometimes important decisions in the family happen over a meal because that will be a time where family members are gathered. It is also true with our friends, we gather, remember past experiences and share stories over a meal and drinks.

It is when we are able to sit down and share the meal with one another that we come into terms, make decisions, connect with one another and become more intimate with our family members and friends. Indeed, it is over our shared meal that we come to understand each other.

This is what we find in the Gospel. It was through that ordinary meal shared by the disciples with Jesus that the disciples were able to realize that it was the Lord. It was through this simple meal with Jesus that they have been commissioned to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations.

It started with two disciples who were talking about Jesus who appeared to them. Yet, even though the Lord has revealed to them, these two disciples were still doubtful. They have recognized the Lord in the breaking of the bread but then, after that revelation, they seemed not so convinced yet.

That is why, when Jesus appeared to them once again, the two were terrified and couldn’t believe that they were seeing Jesus. Because of their disbelief, Jesus has to give and assure them with peace! “Peace be with you!” is Jesus’ repeated gift to the disciples after his resurrection.

After the death of Jesus, the disciples were filled with fear, disgust and shame for themselves. They all ran away and hid themselves while their master was beaten and crucified. Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord, Peter denied Jesus three times and the rest of them were nowhere to be found. They might have blamed themselves for what happened to Jesus. They might have considered themselves failures and worthless because of what happened. They might have thought that what they did to their master was beyond forgiveness and mercy from God.

The disciples must have believed that they failed Jesus. Consequently, they couldn’t believe Mary Magdalene’s testimony that the Lord is alive. That feeling of being a failure is also the reason why these two disciples still doubted and were terrified upon seeing Jesus once again. They couldn’t believe that they were forgiven, that they have been accepted and loved by Jesus.

Despite what they did, Jesus has forgiven them and the resurrection of Jesus is God’s action of forgiveness. But because the disciples found it hard to believe God’s forgiveness, Jesus made the effort to let them understand that they have been forgiven. Jesus has to do it repeatedly to assure his disciples. Thus, Jesus did not just appear to them once but several times and each time he reveals himself to them, Jesus gives his peace – the peace of forgiveness, of mercy and of being loved. This is what Peter proclaimed to the Jews in the Acts of the Apostles and also what has been proclaimed in the First letter of JohnGod’s peace of forgiveness.

This peace was concretely showed by Jesus in the breaking of the bread, in the shared meal with his disciples – which was in a very ordinary way of eating with friends. This is how eating with friends becomes symbolic in the Bible because Jesus made this event as an occasion where he reveals himself to his friends. At the same time, eating with friends becomes an occasion also for his disciples to lay down their fears, shame and doubts but to be accepting and open to God’s revelation to them.

This is the hope expressed to us by our Psalm today, “Lord, let you face shine on us.” Like the disciples, we too, shall glimpse God’s face when we learn to accept God’s invitation to sit down and dine with Him.

These are the invitations for us today.

First, Jesus says to you and to me, “Peace be with you,” because Jesus is with us. We might have been so burdened right now because of something wrong we did, Jesus says to us, “Peace – because I am with you!” Jesus assures us that peace has come upon us because he is alive and we are forgiven.

Second, Jesus invites us to dine with him, to sit down with him so that we will be able to recognize him in our life. The Eucharist is Jesus’ invitation for all of us so that like the disciples our minds will be opened too and will be able to understand his message for us.

Third, like the disciples, we are called to become his witnesses to others, to be his preachers of forgiveness especially to people around us. Thus, each of us is also called by Jesus to dine with our friends, to eat with those who have hurt us, who have caused us disappointment and pain and show to them that they have been forgiven just as Jesus forgives us. Hinaut pa.

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