6 Apr – Easter Monday
On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:
I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.
‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.’
Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.
And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’
While they were on their way, some of the guard went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened. These held a meeting with the elders and, after some discussion, handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, ‘This is what you must say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” And should the governor come to hear of this, we undertake to put things right with him ourselves and to see that you do not get into trouble.’ The soldiers took the money and carried out their instructions, and to this day that is the story among the Jews.
They will see me there
Sometime last month, a friend of mine informed me that registration for the Coversion Experience Retreat #46 (“CER”) was open. As it was always oversubscribed, there would usually be a ballot held to select the participants for the retreat. You have to be physically present or have someone present for you, in order to submit the registration form for the balloting. A number of my friends have attended the retreat and some of them even queued the night before just to ensure that they had a spot.
I’ve been meaning to attend the retreat. When my friend informed me of the registration, it happened that the balloting would take place the next day at 10.00 a.m. However, as I was working in the morning, I could not be present physically to queue. My friend was willing to help but she had to facilitate a retreat that day and could not queue in my place. So I prayed that if it was God’s will, he would make a way. At about 9.50 a.m., I received a call from my friend. She had managed to find someone kind enough to assist with my registration – it was the co-ordinator of the retreat herself! She hastily helped me to fill in the form and submitted it on my behalf. A couple of hours later, I received news that my registration had been confirmed and I was set to participate in the next CER.
Was it a coincidence? I would like to believe that it was the hand of God. Reflecting on today’s Gospel, I can imagine the wonder, surprise and even shock of the women who had met Jesus arisen from the tomb. Who would have ever thought that they would meet Jesus again, alive and breathing, outside the tomb? Wasn’t it barely three days ago that they saw him mercilessly beaten, spat at and crucified, his lifeless body transferred from the cross to the tomb? And yet, here He is. Walking, smiling, talking and standing there before them. “Filled with awe and great joy”, the women gladly believed and they did just as they were told – they went on to share the good news with the disciples. I like how the Gospel described the encounter – “and there coming to meet them, was Jesus” – it was Jesus, who approached them first, before the women responded. It was Jesus who initiated the encounter.
Are we like the women whom Jesus met? As the first reading says (quoting David): ” I saw the Lord before me always”. Are we alive and awake to the reality of God going before us and moving in our midst? Do we see our daily encounters in the light of God’s hand? Or do we choose to rationalise our encounters like the chief priests and elders?
My brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the season of Easter, let us rejoice knowing that our God is present and alive. He initiates encounters with us, even to this present day. Like the women in the Gospel, let us be quick to believe and to trust that He goes before us always. Let us not be too hasty in our daily encounters to dismiss things to luck, chance or coincidence, but give thanks immediately instead for the providence and intervention of our Lord.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: We pray for the wisdom to see you in the little things that happen to us everyday.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for your goodness, love and mercy, in the person of Jesus, your Son.