St. Svithun menighet
3rd Sunday of Easter
Last Sunday Jesus said to us “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!”. And also last Sunday, a bishop summarized his ideas in his homily saying: “See to believe or believe to see?”. I think that these words are inviting to reflection and have much to do with the Gospel we hear this Sunday.
If we go over this text, we realize that Jesus is surprised by the fact that his disciples, his friends, are not able to believe that He is alive, that He has risen. Luke’s narration tells us that when the disciples saw Jesus, they were “startled and terrified” and thought that they were seeing a ghost. So, Jesus surprised by them not believing that He is alive says to them: “Why are you frightened and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet: see that it is I myself. Touch me and see, for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” For the disciples it's easier to believe that they see a ghost than to believe that Jesus has risen…. This scene in the Gospel once more reminds me of Chesterton’s quotation: “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn't then believe in nothing, he believes anything.” And this frequently continues to happen: many people who stop believing in God and despise religion, they end up believing in ghosts, spirits, demons and every kind of superstition.
Even in the Gospel according to Mark we are told that Jesus “appeared to the eleven as they were sitting at the table, and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen”. And more, in today’s narration Jesus shows them his hands and feet and, “while in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering”, he ate in their presence a piece of broiled fish.
I suppose that, if the Risen Jesus appeared now in front of us, it also would be difficult for us to believe that it is Him himself, due to our joy. However, what matters here is to ask ourselves why Jesus is surprised by his disciples’ mistrust.
I would give this answer: in Jesus’ mind and heart there are things that are normal for Him but are not for us. Doubt and mistrust have no space in Jesus’ heart while they are part of our daily life. Jesus, on the contrary, is absolutely convinced of God’s power.
Mistrust perhaps is normal for us (and it isn´t normal for Jesus) because we are used to be disappointed and are used to disappoint. It isn’t like that In Jesus “world”, nor in Jesus’ look, neither in Jesus’ heart, nor in his way of seeing the world and life. He knows that “for God all things are possible” and that his Resurrection was announced in the Bible as He himself tells us today: “Thus it was written, the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day”.
For that reason, I go back to the words I quoted at the beginning: “See to believe of believe to see?”. To believe in the Risen Jesus it isn’t only “to know” that he is alive. To believe in the Risen Jesus means to look at life, the world and ourselves with Jesus’ look. It means to enter another world; it means to “enter into the Kingdom of God”, as He himself preached before his death and resurrection.
In the Kingdom of God, in which the Risen Jesus reigns, there´s no place for mistrust and doubt. In the Kingdom of the Risen Jesus, we look at life as shown by our own opened and awaken eyes and with our feet firm on the ground; but that same life, everything that happens to us, even our own dark side, our experience of sin, we look at everything with the Risen Jesus’ eyes and heart.
For that reason, the Letter of John, which we hear this Sunday tells us that, “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous.” Jesus is risen and alive with us to dialogue with us through the Church’s sacraments and He is next to the Father to talk and advocate for us.
May we have the same trust as Risen Jesus, the same certainty He has that, whatever may happen, even the worst crosses and dramas in our lives, God’s plans have been fulfilled and they continue fulfilling among us.
Fr. Juan Carlos