April 15, 2023 – Saturday in the Octave of Easter
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/041523.cfm)
They could not believe it. They could not accept what has been reported by Mary Magdalene. They would not even accept the testimony of the two disciples who went to Emmaus and reported that the Lord appeared to them. The eleven disciples, who were the closest circle of Jesus, did not believe because their hearts were hardened.
We could just imagine the very dispositions and attitudes of the eleven disciples. They must have been filled with guilt and shame for fleeing away and hiding when Jesus, their Lord and Teacher, was arrested, tortured and killed. Peter denied Jesus who previously said he won’t. The very experience and those days were just disheartening. They too must have felt that there was no more hope for them. Their courage was gone. Their spirits dampened.
The terrible death of Jesus, killed in the most shameful and painful way, was beyond their expectation. Yet, it happened. The Lord told them that he would suffer and die and be raised on the third day, yet, they were all unprepared for that. They clearly did not understand what Jesus was teaching them at that time. And when Jesus was raised and appeared to other disciples, their minds and hearts were closed because they were too afraid. And they stayed in their grief and sorrow, nursing their fear and shame.
However, the Lord appeared to them all and confronted them. As the Gospel of Mark told us, “Jesus appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart.” Yes, the Lord confronted and challenged them by rebuking them. It was the Lord’s way of making them wake up and move forward. They have been staying in that disposition and attitude that was already unhealthy and unhelpful for them and for others.
We too could find ourselves having such kind of disposition and attitude. When we are staying too much in our grief and sorrow, when we are already nurturing our own emotional wounds, and feeding our fears with our anxiety, then, such disposition of the heart and mind will only make us more submerged into fear and anxiety or into sin and darkness.
Indeed, it is okay to grieve. It is okay to be afraid after a painful experience. It is okay to feel down and discouraged after a failure. It is okay to feel lonely and alone. It is okay to be sad and not feeling okay. However, when we are already staying too much in these human emotions and even reinforcing these emotions with our unhealthy coping and nursing them. Then, that is not okay. It is not alright because such attitudes would only lead us farther from others or even farther from our true selves and farther from the grace of God.
We are rather called to confront ourselves, confront our friends and allow the Lord to confront us when we are going in that state just as Jesus rebuked the disciples whose hearts were hardened. This is the invitation for us today and that is to allow the grace of the resurrection to give us hope, courage and new way of looking at things and looking at our life. We move forward and move on, knowing that the grace of God is with us, and that the presence of Jesus assures us that there is life, that there is hope.
As we allow the Lord to confront us, may our hearts be filled with confidence and gratitude to proclaim and share to our friends, families and communities the goodness that the Lord has done to us. Hinaut pa.