9 Apr – Easter Thursday
Everyone came running towards Peter and John in great excitement, to the Portico of Solomon, as it is called, where the man was still clinging to Peter and John. When Peter saw the people he addressed them, ‘Why are you so surprised at this? Why are you staring at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or holiness? You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses; and it is the name of Jesus which, through our faith in it, has brought back the strength of this man whom you see here and who is well known to you. It is faith in that name that has restored this man to health, as you can all see.
‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and so that the Lord may send the time of comfort. Then he will send you the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus, whom heaven must keep till the universal restoration comes which God proclaimed, speaking through his holy prophets. Moses, for example, said: The Lord God will raise up a prophet like myself for you, from among your own brothers; you must listen to whatever he tells you. The man who does not listen to that prophet is to be cut off from the people. In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days.
‘You are the heirs of the prophets, the heirs of the covenant God made with our ancestors when he told Abraham: in your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed. It was for you in the first place that God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.’
The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.
Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.
neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing
Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard from various friends, each sharing their struggles with their current stage in life. Some have decided to take a sabbatical from their jobs to explore alternative routes, while others are in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of their daily life, to recollect themselves again. I too am one of them. Like every young person, we desire for a map to know exactly where we’re heading and we search for possible end-destinations in our minds. But being short of one, we either try to actively seek out one (by exploring various routes and activities) or find ourselves carried along the waves of our daily life, struggling to keep our heads above water.
Reflecting on today’s readings, I realised that the Jews too had no idea of what they were really doing. Yet, St Peter reminds them that this was how God had chosen his plan to be fulfilled, regardless of whether they were conscious and willing participants of it. In the Gospel, the disciples too had no idea of what they were doing. Instead of being encouraged with faith at the news of the risen Lord, they were filled with fear and alarm at the sight of Jesus. Overcome with doubt, they were unable to receive Christ’s peace, until Jesus himself pacified them by eating a fish to prove that he was truly alive. None would have foreseen their astounding transformation after Pentecost – only God.
My brothers and sisters, as we reflect on today’s readings, let us take comfort in knowing that even as we struggle to search for direction in our daily lives, we are not left without a guide. Regardless of our knowledge and conscious participation, God has a paln. And it begins with Jesus. Like the disciples, we are asked to take a chance – to believe, inspite of our fears, inhibitions, struggles and doubts, in the living presence of Christ and to allow him to be our daily guide. We are asked, like the disciples, to touch the hands and feet of Jesus, to allow Him to assure us of his living presence in our lives. Are we willing to take a chance?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Dear Father, we trust in your providence and favour in our lives. Help us to remember constantly, that no matter how trying our circumstances may be, you are there with us, guiding us, providing us, watching over us and protecting us through every phase of our lives.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for your unconditional favour and blessing in our lives.