2021 3rd Sunday of Easter (B)
Have you ever been paralysed by fear? Or, have you ever been so happy you couldn’t speak? Well, both these emotions occur in today’s gospel. The Apostles are terrified when they see Jesus because they think they see a ghost; they can’t move, can’t speak. But then Jesus manages to convince them that he wasn’t a ghost. He shows them his hands and side, both with open wounds, then tells them to touch him, “a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And it’s true. I don’t know if they dared to touch him but we do see an incredible transformation: from fear to joy. The gospel tells us, ‘their joy was so great that they couldn’t believe it.’ Have you ever been so happy, so full of joy, that you can’t speak? Think of that: none of the apostles could say a word! Even, Peter, who normally can’t shut up is speechless. What he and the others were seeing was beyond words: here was someone they had seen die, and yet here he was alive. It can’t be true. And yet it is true. He’s here. It’s him.
Jesus can still see their incredulity so he eats a piece of grilled fish; just to prove beyond doubt that he isn’t a ghost: as you know ghosts don’t eat fish; at least none that I know. I’ll bet when they eventually do speak, their first words were: “Oh my God!” This was the beginning of a whole new life for the apostles. They would never be the same again. And that’s borne out by what happens afterwards. They unlock the door and went out into the temple and began to tell anyone who would listen what they had seen. And they did this knowing that it would put them at risk, but they can’t stop. They have to tell their story. This is what the experience of seeing Jesus alive did for them. They lost all their fear. Also, remember, these men were uneducated, they could not read or write, and yet they dared to stand up before the intellectual elite in Jerusalem and tell them they were wrong. Yes, the change in them was truly extraordinary.
But it’s not enough for us to admire the apostles. We must be like them. The resurrection of Christ happened 2,000 years ago. That’s history. And it will remain history unless we do what the apostles did and share our faith with the people of our generation. No one is asking you to preach, as such, but simply to live in such a way that your life reflects your belief in the gospel preached by Jesus Christ. And if you do that others will notice. When youngsters question their faith they don’t really want answers they want example. How often have I heard youngsters say “I’m not going to church they’re all hypocrites”. Let’s prove them wrong. Let’s show them what a follower of Christ is like. You don’t have to be perfect; all God is asking us to do is try; He’ll do the rest. By trying to live the gospel we are making something that happened a long time ago alive for the people of our generation. And surely you must know that the people of our generation desperately need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ; that they are loved and lovable. This isn’t an invitation, it’s a duty you have as baptised Christians.