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Weekly Reflection

ENCOUNTERING THE RISEN LORD

Right from his resurrection on Easter Sunday, Jesus has busied himself with appearing before his disciples to confirm the truth of his resurrection and to kick off the new phase of his mission to the people. Today’s gospel presents us with his appearance to the disciples in the Upper room while the two disciples travelling on their way to Emmaus were reporting how the recognized the risen Lord at the breaking of the bread. In the first two appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, the disciples did not recognize him. While these two men travelling to Emmaus thought that Jesus was a stranger whom they met on the way to Emmaus, Mary Magdalene who was the first to see the empty tomb, thought he was a gardener. Here in the Upper room, when he appeared to the disciples, they were terrified and thought he was a ghost. It was only when Jesus showed them his wounded hands and feet with the invitation to touch him that the disciples slowly began to recognize him.

What one can say that made it difficult for the two disciples to recognize Jesus might be the result of the phenomenon of seeing someone entirely outside the context in which we are used to seeing him or her. The appearance of such a person might be so utterly unexpected that one simply does not recognize him or her. But once we overcome what blocked our perception, then the unfamiliar becomes familiar. It took “the breaking of the bread,” an event which they did last with Jesus, to connect to the person of Jesus.

In the Upper room encounter, Jesus further confirms his identity by eating some baked fish in front of the disciples. In the Emmaus story, the meal was Bread and in this Upper room encounter, it is Fish. This combination of bread and fish reminds us of the feeding of the 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. It takes a personal communion of this kind to familiarize and encounter the resurrected Lord in an intimate way. Today, with the Bread of Life and the Book of Life, the resurrected Lord has made himself perpetually available and reachable so that we can have a continuing relationship with him.

The Church is telling us today to remember that Jesus still walks with us when we are walking our own ways through life. We have all travelled the road to Emmaus at one time or the other we had our hopes dashed. At such times if we realize that the risen Lord accompanies us, our eyes are opened to a new way of looking at reality by the word of God. We would realize that Jesus is not just present, but transforms us, renews us, recreates us just as he restored hope and joy once again to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and Upper room. This encounter reveals to us not only something about who Jesus is, but also how Jesus opens our eyes to see him for who he truly is, and about how we can come to know him.

Today, the Good News in these appearances is that Jesus is risen to be encountered and interacted with in a real personal relationship. He now freely reveals himself to each one of us as we listen to his voice in the Scriptures and break the Bread of Life at Mass. We do not need to go to Israel to encounter him at the sea of Tiberias, or the road to Emmaus, or at the garden outside the empty tomb or in the Upper room. There are many ways in which we can encounter him now in the privacy of our room, office place, school, prayer meetings, or at the Church – through Daily Prayers, through the Mass, through works of Charity, through Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, or through Reading and Meditating on the Bible.