[2nd Sunday of Easter, Year C, 3 April 2016, Acts 5:12-16 / Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24 / Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 / John 20:19-31]
One evening, a husband and wife were driving along a narrow country road. The husband said to his wife, a hairdresser, “Honey, there are so many rabbits and hares here.” “Darling,” she replied, “you would know that because you are a vet.” Suddenly the car hit something. They got out to look and there was a dead animal in front of the car. “Is it a rabbit or a hare?” asked the wife. “I don’t know,” said the husband, “but it is dead anyway.” Now the wife had been praying hard during the Octave of Easter, meditating on the resurrection appearances of the Lord. “The Lord is risen from the dead,” she said, “There is still hope.” She reached into her handbag, pulled out a lotion and began rubbing it into the little creature. Little by little it opened its eyes, its ears sprang up and it came back to life again. Standing on his feet, a little unsteady at first, he gave them a wave and started to bounce off into the countryside. After 5 meters he stopped, turned and gave them a wave. Bouncing on a little further he stopped again, turned around and gave them a wave before carrying on. “Wow, a miracle!” said the husband. “What was in the bottle?” The wife read the label: “Hair restorer with permanent wave.”
When we enter into the spirit of the resurrection everything changes. Jesus appears again and again to his disciples to help them understand and enter more deeply into the mystery. What is interesting is that none of them recognized him at first – the disciples of Emmaus did not recognize him, neither did Mary Magdalene. The Risen Christ is the one who reveals himself, the one who opens their eyes, heart and minds. So the question for every Christian this week is “When did Christ appear to me during the week?” Don’t just live the resurrection in a general way. For sure Christ is risen but that intellectual knowledge alone will not save me. It is like the difference between knowing that God is love and actually experiencing in my life situation that he loves me. It is one thing to know what honey is and another thing to taste it. Jesus is so patient with his disciples and with us, appearing again and again to them. Let us pray for the grace to recognize him!
In the gospel today the disciples are behind locked door because of fear. In that moment Jesus stands in their midst and says, “Peace be with you.” In fact he says it three times because often we are so agitated. Just one little change in the plans and we lose peace! I was fretting because no one seemed to be following the plans we had made and the Risen Lord was reminding me, “Peace be with you!”
Once we stayed in the house of our Sisters in Tagaytay which is about 1.5 hours from Manila. It was a good chance to try to practice our Tagalog. Some young teenagers said they would visit and help us practice so they came along with many others. 36 in all! We organized some games and then they did some drawing of the members of their family. At the end we were trying to share a little about family values to them which was quite challenging in Tagalog. But thanks be to God for the gift of community as one of our Filipina sisters came to our rescue. In community, helping each other, the Risen Lord approaches us many times through one another to say, “Peace be with you!”
Be sure that while we procrastinate and make excuses for not announcing the Good News many will have no such qualms to announce bad news, inviting others with boldness to get drunk, to watch pornography and take drugs. How can we remain silent? Some good news that is important to share is the Church’s so–called second best kept secret. The first best kept secret is the Teaching of her Social Doctrine but what is her second best kept secret? Natural Family Planning or NFP for short.
It is so well kept that only 0.4percent of married women of reproductive age in the Philippines use modern NFP. It is really a treasure hidden in a field, a precious pearl. It is sad that in a poor area near our house many women have heard about pills, injections and sterilization. They have heard the “bad news” but it seems that no one has told them the good news that there is a safe, moral and effective way to plan a family and space the birth of children. It seems that already certain agencies have reached them with the bad news but there has been no one to tell them good news. How can they honestly make good reproductive health choices if they do not have the correct information? Maybe you, reader, are also misinformed? Another word for a lack of desire to discover the truth is sin.
May the Holy Spirit inspire us more and more to search for the truth. May we not just follow what is easy or convenient. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen warned us: “Even a dead body floats downstream.” It is sometimes easy to go with the flow but may the Spirit of the Risen Christ inspire us, animate us to search for the truth and to do it. Amen.