1 John 2:1-5a
Today’s reading from the Gospel According to Luke recounts
the appearance of Jesus to the disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.
We know the scene. The two
disciples who had encountered Jesus on the Road to Emmaus have rushed back to Jerusalem to share
incredible news. They have seen the Lord and recognized him in the breaking of
the bread. The faithful, gathered in the
privacy of the Upper Room, are now putting all the pieces together-sharing
other eyewitness stories of the resurrection of Jesus.
Then, without warning, their mood shifts from joy to
fear. To their great surprise, the Lord
appears in their midst and proclaims "Peace be with you." Jesus, observing that
they are distressed, asks "Why are you troubled?" Jesus then shows the gathered his hands and
feet. And, to further demonstrate that
he is no ghost, he asks for something to eat.
Fish is what is available on the table, which He eats to the full. Now
the disciples know that this is no ghost!
(One of the earliest symbols we see for Jesus in the catacombs in Rome is that of the
fish-a symbol that continues to appear on jewelry, bumper stickers and
Once again, just as Jesus had done while walking with the
disciples on the Road to Emmaus, He points the gathered back to the Scriptures
which foretold His death and resurrection-and the revelation that "repentance,
for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations,
beginning from Jerusalem."
With this powerful preaching on repentance and forgiveness
of sins, let us now consider our First Reading from the Acts of the
Apostles. In this reading, we witness
Peter fulfilling Jesus’ call to preach repentance–beginning in Jerusalem. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter preaches
with vim and vigor the message of the Risen Lord and the need for
repentance. It should be noted that
Peter can relate to this need for repentance from his own personal experience.
He knows what despair and emptiness comes from denying Christ. Clearly, to be a good preacher of repentance
and a life in Jesus Christ, we must be willing to repent our own sinfulness.
In this Easter Season, let us focus on our ongoing
conversion and renewal in faith-that we too may join in active discipleship and
preach in action and words our belief in the power of Jesus Christ. To strengthen our faith and knowledge, we
must take time to break open the Word and recognize Jesus in "the breaking of
the bread." And, we need to do all of
this in community-just as the disciples did while gathered in their Upper
Room. Like the disciples, we too may
experience times of fear or confusion.
Nevertheless, if we remain faithful to our call, we can and will
experience the power of the Risen Christ in our lives.
Angela Howell is a
retreatant and volunteer at Mater Dolorosa Passionists Retreat Center in Sierra