Every year, on Palm Sunday and on Good Friday, among other relevant things, we recall Simon Peter’s triple denial of even knowing Jesus. That was the pre-Resurrection Simon Peter, alas, perhaps also a template of the way we might still be, at times, as disciples of Christ.
However, what we have in the Acts of the Apostles is the post-Resurrection/post Pentecost Simon Peter. The latter is the template of what we should be as disciples of Christ since we are his followers some 2000 years after Easter and after the descent of the Holy Spirit. What a remarkable transformation in Simon Peter: from being afraid of a slave girl to confronting those who could have killed him for professing so boldly to be a disciple of one executed on a cross as a common criminal, and to be an eye witness of all that Jesus taught and did, as well as of his Resurrection and of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
Now, in order to make the Resurrection of Jesus Christ relevant to us and to enable us to pass from the old template of discipleship to the new one, I would like to focus on these words from Simon Peter’s speech.
Acts 10:41 [God] granted that he be visible not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
My dear friends in Christ, this sentence should become also an accurate description of our calling. There should not be any difference between us, disciples of Christ in the year 2021, and Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, the Disciple whom Jesus loved and any other of the first group of those who ate and drank with the Risen Lord.
Yes, indeed: the calling to bear witness to the Risen Lord is to be for all those of any times and places who eat and drink with him. And, besides Holy Communion, eating and drinking with the Lord should refer to all those who consider him to be “family,” the Lord with whom they share ordinary aspects of daily life.
It has to do with living out and preaching the Gospel of a Crucified and Risen Lord right in the environment and setting in which we happened to be living. Borrowing again from St. Peter’s words, it can be said that all aspects of our daily life, including our meals and any other ordinary aspect, should be lived in such a way that those around us are bound to notice that we are living, thinking, talking, acting, and reacting as people “charged,” “energized” by the Resurrection.
But, in the light of the Spirit of the Risen Lord, we humbly admit that we are not yet truly living as disciples “charged” and energized” by the Resurrection of Christ. In truthfulness, we might have still a lot of work to do before considering Jesus Christ as “family.” Nevertheless, as it is, even a limited knowledge of the New Testament writings should help us to learn from disciples such as Simon Peter, the Beloved Disciple, the rest of the Twelve and Mary Magdalene to relate to the Risen Lord as “family.”
And, we can find additional help in… the pandemic. Due to Covid-19, for the last year or so, we should have acquired a deeper knowledge and appreciation of what it means to be “family.” Any of the restrictions that are still imposed on us whenever we venture outside of our home do not apply to our family! At home, we never stopped being fully engaged in showing mutual affection, support, tenderness, gratitude and readiness to forgive anything that happened due to our human frailty.
Today, on Easter Sunday, we are urged by St. Paul to seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. St. Paul continues: “Think of what is above…” This is quite possible if, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we begin to live our Christian calling with Jesus as “family,” very close to us, always on our mind, always in our heart.
Here are some questions that I asked myself to make this possible:
As I have to be fully engaged in many things on this earth, how often do I look at the Gospel to find inspiration, light and guidance?
In brutal honesty, are there things and/or people that I consider more important than the Lord Jesus?
What sacrifices am I willing to make, cheerfully, for my family and for other people in whom I see the features of Jesus?
Do I regret bitterly every sin of my past life and yet retain full confidence in the Lord’s boundless mercy for me?
Aware of his infinite love for me, do I lead a serene life knowing that nothing will ever separate me from him?
Do I look forward with eagerness and anticipation to every Eucharistic Celebration to make the Lord Jesus ever more “family,” ever more one with whom I share the good things in life and endure the bad ones?
The sooner, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we learn to live with the Lord Jesus as “family,” the sooner we will be “charged” and “energized” by the Resurrection, the mutual affection, support, tenderness, gratitude and readiness to forgive that we already experience in our family will brim over to touch many other lives. Our preaching of the Gospel will become that much more effective. Once such awareness of Jesus’ presence becomes habitual, we will be transformed into Spirit-filled disciples and become bold and enthusiastic preachers of the Gospel with our words and deeds.
I wish a Happy Easter to all of you; an Easter “charged” and “energized” by the Lord’s Resurrection.