27 March 2008 Thursday within the Octave of Easter
Luke 24, 35-48 Taking the Initiative
We hear another Resurrection story: Jesus once again appears to His disciples and invites them to touch His wounds and asks them to give Him something to eat. By showing them His wounds and eating baked fish, He attests to them that He has indeed completely risen “flesh and bones” — not like a ghost that do not possess a body.
There is always a tendency for us to see in order to believe. In matters of faith, we ask for concrete evidence as proof. The disciples were skeptical to the stories of the women at the tomb or the disciples from Emmaus. The disciples, however, were not at fault: we react the same way when someone tells us that they have seen the ghost of someone who is dead. And Jesus understands this human tendency. He therefore invites them to touch his wounds and furthermore, to eat. No ghost can consume food. He brings the disciples to believe by reminding them of what the Scriptures say about him. He knows about the inability of the disciples to understand, and so reaches out to them, coaxing them towards a fuller understanding.
Here again is a consistent action of God. It is God who reaches out to us. The Incarnation is God coming to become like us. God seeking us out. God taking the initiative to come closer to us. This is the starting point of Christianity. Pope John Paul II said that many religions, including Christianity, expressed the fact that humanity is the one who searches for God. But, the starting point of our Christian faith is the Incarnation, of God speaking to us first and showing the path on which we should thread. Jesus speaks of God searching us with the Parable of the Good Shepherd who seeks out the lost sheep. The same way with the Gospel today: the disciples who have been disoriented by the tragedy of the crucifixion has been found by Jesus who appears to them, talks to them in flesh and blood.
How do we experience God finding us? In the artistic world, the coming of an inspiration, has been attributed to someone (or something) outside of them. When an artist experiences dryness, no amount of coaxing will help him produce an inspiring work. When a person undergoes what St. John of the Cross calls, “the desert experience”, spiritual directors encourages the person to wait; wait till God comes; wait like someone wanting to be found.
How do we apply what we learned today about God in our lives? To take initiative in our lives is virtuous or consistent with the action of God. When we are hurt by a friend, we do have to wait until the friend asks pardon: we too can make the first move so that one gets reconciled right away. When we are at work, we do not wait for someone to tell us what to do, we find ways to see how we can contribute. We can make ourselves useful at any given time.