Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Witnesses of the Resurrection
….[Jesus] stood in their midst and said to them [the apostles], “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see…And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Lk 24,35-48
The tomb left empty by Jesus and the event of the resurrection welcomed with joy by a few and with concern by the religious authorities, caused a huge trouble in the city of Jerusalem. The apostles live hidden being all together, a little bit to share the joy of the event, but mostly to get encouraged one to the another, waiting for the situation to normalize again, to be able to exit in the streets. It is in this context that Jesus appears to them addressing a plain “Peace be with you”, followed by a crescendo of phrases and behaviors which have the purpose to flush them out of their fear: “Why are you troubled .…..that it is I myself. Touch me … Have you anything here to eat?”. Then, after opening their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures, where his death and resurrection have been already announced, he entrusts to the apostles the great commission to be witnesses of these events, beginning from Jerusalem. “What? Is it from Jerusalem that we must begin, considering all the turmoil which is out there? Could we not start from a safer place?” they would have thought in their hearts. Instead, it is in Jerusalem where their testimony will begin. This reminds me of my friend Matthew who, being converted to the gospel since a short time, began to talk about it around, being careful from doing it in the family, which welcomed that change of life as an extravagance. “No, no – father Fausto combonian missionary said to him – begin to speak just in your family”. Even we, who pray together since long time and we also have been witnesses of our faith, believe it is now time to expose ourselves more as witnesses of the resurrection. We need to revive the evangelization, especially by the laymen and the christian families. Just start living with spontaneity our faith and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.