Meditation: What can give us unshakeable hope and confidence in the face of failure, defeat, and death? The apostles had abandoned Jesus in his hour of trial when he was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemani by Judas and arrested by the Jewish authorities. Their fear turned to despair when Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion for his claim to be the King of the Jews. In that hour of darkness on "Good Friday" the apostles saw Jesus' death as defeat rather than victory.
From death and despair to joy and victory
On Sunday morning when they heard the reports from the women who saw the empty tomb, they were slow to believe that Jesus had risen as he prophesied to them previously. Their despair turned to joy when the Risen Lord at last appeared to them and showed them the scars of his victory - his pierced hands, feet, and side. Jesus had indeed triumphed over the enemies which held the human race in slavery to sin, Satan, and death.
The last apostle to meet the resurrected Lord was the first to go with him to Jerusalem at Passover time. The apostle Thomas was a natural pessimist. When Jesus proposed that they visit Lazarus after receiving news of his illness, Thomas said to the disciples: "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). While Thomas deeply loved the Lord, he lacked the courage to stand with Jesus in his passion and crucifixion. After Jesus' death, Thomas made the mistake of withdrawing from the other apostles. He sought loneliness rather than fellowship in his time of sorrow and adversity. He doubted the women who saw the resurrected Jesus and he doubted his own fellow apostles who also testified that Jesus had risen.
When Thomas finally had the courage to rejoin the other apostles eight days later, the Lord Jesus made his presence known to him and reassured him that he had indeed overcome death and risen again. When Thomas recognized his Master, he believed and exclaimed that Jesus was truly Lord and truly God!
Through faith we meet the Risen Lord
Through the gift of faith we, too, are able to recognize the presence of the risen Lord in our personal lives. The Holy Spirit reveals the Lord Jesus to us and helps us to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and his ways. Through the gift of faith we are able to proclaim that Jesus is our personal Lord and our God. He died and rose that we, too, might have new life in him. The Lord offers each of us new life in his Holy Spirit that we may know him personally and walk in this new way of life through the power of his resurrection. Do you believe in God's word and in the power of the Holy Spirit?
"Lord Jesus Christ, through your victory over sin and death you have overcome all the powers of darkness. Help me to draw near to you and to trust in your life-giving word. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and strengthen my faith in your promises and my hope in the power of your resurrection."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/