During the week I happened to watch the episode on the reality show called ‘The Voice’ wherein hopefuls would try their luck by singing and impressing the four judges with their voices. One of those who wen to audition was a legally blind girl. She has really got a beautiful voice but what impress me all the more was her statement. She said: ‘I don’t want people to think of me as a blind girl who sings…but a singer who happens to be blind.
What an extraordinary sense of self-confidence, of self acceptance, of self worth. Surely, she has acknowledged and accepted her disability but she didn’t let it become a hindrance to expressing her true self and to being true to herself. She is not having false illusions of herself. She accepted who she is, yet she also discovered that there is more that she can offer despite of her limitations.
Friends, everyday we face all kinds of illusions. We have all kinds of persuasions that if we buy this car, or build this kind of house, or get the latest gadget, then we can be happy. But of course, we know that these things are only giving us temporary happiness or contentment. The real happiness is only found in relationship…a real and a personal relationship.
This is what hinders the disciples to believe that Jesus has really risen from the dead, as we have heard in our gospel today. They have an illusion of their messiah. They expected of the messiah who is powerful, invincible, has powerful followers, victorious in all respects. But the person to whom Simon Peter has made his confession as ‘the Messiah, the Son of God’ has suffered, mocked, spat upon, tortured, crucified, died, buried. Jesus was not the kind of Messiah they are expecting. What happened to him was an failure. And now these other disciples (on the Road to Emmaus) would tell them that they met the risen Jesus. They couldn’t take it. It’s too unrealistic.
They couldn’t belief the report of the disciples because they are still having this illusion of a powerful messiah. But Jesus reminded them again of his constant offer of personal and real relationship that would help to get over with their false illusions. He invited them to ‘touch him and see for themselves’ the wounds he had on his body. They did and they believed in him, our Gospel today tells us.
Because they responded to the invitation of Jesus their false expectations, their illusions of a messiah was purified. They became true witnesses of him, of his love and of his forgiveness. So even if we hear Peter in our First Reading today telling the Jewish authorities rightly and bluntly that they were the ones who killed the Christ, the messiah, he didn’t bear grudge on them. The disciples who have now seen the real Jesus and who have understood the real meaning of a messiahship, have now braved the threats of death and persecutions just to preach to all people the risen Jesus. Hence we heard Peter after telling the Jewish leaders of their terrible act of crucifying the Lord, inviting them to repent of their sins, because Jesus Christ, has come to save everyone from sins.
Friends, it is really just through a personal relationship with Jesus that our false expectations and illusions would collapse and crumble. He is the way, the truth and the life’ according to John. If our relationship with him is real and personal, we come to realize that there is more we can offer to the world and to everyone rather than just lamenting on our particular circumstances and life’s situations.
How can we develop and grow into a personal relationship with Jesus?
Our Gospel offers us a way…to listen to the Scriptures. If we hear the report of the disciples who were walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, we know that in Jesus the Scriptures, the Word of God has really come alive and was made flesh. ‘Are not our hearts burning when he explained to us the Scriptures?’, they asked. It is so because they listened to the Word of God in the light of Jesus. They didn’t interpret it themselves. They let Jesus speak to them in the Scriptures. Reading a passage of a Scripture everyday would be a very good start to grow and nurture our relationship with God.
Another way is to share in the communion, or to break the bread and share it with one another. This is the Eucharist. It is very important indeed because the Eucharist is the source of our life. And more…it is the summit of our Christian life, according to the Second Vatican Council. In the Eucharist we can touch Jesus in our hands and receive him as our food. St Justin Martyr, one of the great Fathers of the Early Christian Church would attest to this, when he described the meaning of the Eucharist as they (the early Christians) celebrated it once a week. He wrote: For we do not receive this food as ordinary bread and as ordinary drink; but just as Jesus Christ our Saviour became flesh through the word of God, and assumed flesh and blood for our salvation, so too we are taught that the food over which the prayer of thanksgiving…has been said, the food which nourishes our flesh and blood by assimilation, is the flesh and blood of this Jesus who became flesh.’ In other words, in the Eucharist Jesus does not only come to feed us, but he really has become our food as well. The Eucharist therefore is a great way to grow into a deeper relationship with God in Jesus. Such is the beauty of our Eucharist. We are not just here to fulfil our Sunday obligation. We are not just here to sit down and rest after a whole day of worrying and of doing many things. We are here because we are called into a personal, real and intimate relationship with our Lord.
So as we continue in our Christian journey let’s pray that God would break our false expectations and our illusions, so that we can really the real meaning and essence of things. Let’s do this by loving the Scriptures and by actively engaging ourselves in every celebration of the Holy Eucharist. In this way, we can grow into more real, more intimate, more personal and deeper relationship with our God. We can know this, if the reason and the motive of everything we do is like Jesus to fulfil the will of his Father. Let this be our prayer.In and through personal relationship with Jesus, we can know who we really are and accept everything that we are.