by Rev. Fr. P.C. Eapen
Gospel Reading: St. Luke: 24:13-35
As Joseph of Arimethea took down the body of Jesus from the cross for burial, the women from Galilee followed and watched as his body was laid in the sepulchre. As that was the day of preparation for the sabbath, the women then returned to their homes and prepared spices and ointments and rested on the sabbath day according to the Jewish tradition.
Very early on the first day of the week following the sabbath, at sunrise, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome and other women returned to the sepulchre with the sweet spices and ointments they had prepared to anoint the body of Jesus. Finding the stone rolled away from the entrance to the sepulchre, they entered, but not finding the body of Christ, were very much puzzled. They became fearful as two men in shining garments appeared to them and announced that Jesus is not there at the sepulchre because Jesus is risen from the dead on the third day after the crucifixion. The men reminded the women that Jesus had foretold it to them thus when He was in Galilee: "The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and the third day rise again."
The women then went to the eleven disciples and also to many others and spread the news of Jesus having risen from the dead. Just as we in this day hesitate to believe unlikely stories, there was much skepticism among the people who heard the story, including the eleven disciples. "And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not." In fact, Peter, who also doubted the fact of Jesus' resurrection, went to the sepulchre to see for himself if it was true that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. And when he saw that only the linen that Jesus was wrapped in was in the sepulchre, he left wondering about the incident.
As the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus were met by Jesus, the story of Jesus condemnation to be crucified was still very fresh and was the topic of their conversation. They were so consumed by sorrow and ordinance over the crucifixion of Jesus and perplexed and astonished by the women's story that Jesus is alive and that they had seen Him that day. It is only at the end of the day when Jesus blessed and broke bread and gave it to them that they realized that it was Jesus who had spent the day with them. Their doubt and disbelief contributed to their inability to recognize Jesus. But finally when they did, their joy replaced any doubts and they then carried the news to the eleven disciples who were gathered together in Jerusalem. Jesus appeared in their midst, but they were terrified as was the expected response to the thought that there was a spirit amongst them. Jesus had to calm them and show them His hands and His feet and invite them to touch Him and told them not to be afraid because a spirit would have not flesh. He had to then teach them again what was written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the psalms concerning Him. That was when they became enlightened that it was Christ indeed who was amongst them, having risen from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion and was among them to bring to mankind repentance and the promise of remission of sins from God the Father. Appearing to His disciples again and teaching them and blessing them and partaking of meal with them as He did before the crucifixion, He revealed to them the power of God the son in His resurrection. Jesus continued to reveal Himself to many of His followers, dispelling disbelief and concreting their faith in Him as God the son, the Saviour of mankind.
In this day, two millennia after the suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Son of God, the risen Jesus continues to reveal Himself to us because of and despite our human disbelief and doubts, weaknesses and sinfulness. May our faith be increased by the deep abiding spiritual experiences of the perennial presence and the love of the risen Christ in our lives.
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