Thursday, April 19, 2012

Witnesses

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Eclesalia Informativo
April 11, 2012

Luke 24: 35-48

Luke describes the meeting between the Risen One and His disciples as a foundational experience. Jesus' wish is clear. His task did not end on the cross. Resurrected by God after His execution, He gets in touch with His own to start a movement of "witnesses" able to spread His Good News to all people -- "You are My witnesses."

It isn't easy to change those men who are drowning in confusion and fear into witnesses. Throughout the scene, the disciples keep quiet, in total silence. The narrator only describes their inner world -- they are terrified, they only feel agitation and disbelief; all that seems to them to be too good to be true.

Jesus is the one who will rekindle their faith. The most important thing is that they not feel alone. They have to feel Him fully alive in the midst of them. These are the first words they will hear from the Risen One: "Peace be with you...Why do doubts arise within you?"

When we forget the living presence of Jesus among us, when we make Him opaque and invisible through our meddling and conflicts, when sadness keeps us from feeling anything much less His peace, when we spread pessimism and unbelief to each other...we are sinning against the Risen One. A Church of witnesses isn't possible.

To awaken their faith, Jesus doesn't ask them to look at His face but at His hands and His feet. So that they see the wounds of His crucifixion. So that they will always have before their eyes His love poured out unto death. He isn't a ghost. "It is I myself." The same one they have known and loved along the roads of Galilee.

Whenever we try to base faith in the Risen One on our speculations, we change Him into a ghost. To meet Him, we have to run through the narrative of the gospels -- discover these hands that bless the sick and caress the children, these feet that are tired of walking to meet the most forgotten ones, discover His wounds and His passion. It is this Jesus who now lives, resurrected by the Father.

In spite of seeing them full of fear and doubt, Jesus trusts His disciple. He Himself will send them the Spirit that will sustain them. So they are entrusted by Him to prolong their presence in the world -- "You are witnesses of this." They don't have to teach sublime doctrines, but share their experience. They don't have to preach great theories about Christ, but radiate His Spirit. They are to make Him believable with their lives, not just with words. This is always the real problem of the Church -- the lack of witnesses.

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