Ps 8:2ab, 5-9
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”
Good News Reflection:
In today’s first reading, the healing of the crippled man attracted a crowd. This reminds me of the time when my parish hosted a guest speaker from Ireland who was advertised as a “healing priest”. He attracted such large numbers of people that many could not fit inside the church. They waited outside for his preaching to end so that they could get in line to go in for a healing.
When was the last time you saw a parish mission draw crowds this large for nothing more than to hear good teachings and have a penance service? I’ve never seen it. Most people are more interested in physical miracles than spiritual growth.
Peter addressed the miracle-seeking crowd and used this opportunity to turn their attention away from the miracle — and away from himself and John — to guide their eyes toward Jesus and their hearts toward conversion. Some of them accepted this, some did not.
Are we more fascinated by miracles or by personal improvement?
Look at how the disciples reacted when the risen Christ appeared supernaturally in the Gospel reading today. Jesus offered peace, but they shook with fear and confusion. They had already heard that Jesus had risen from the dead, but they were still finding it too incredible to believe.
There’s a big difference between knowing and believing. We know we are loved by rebellious children and argumentative friends, but we don’t fully believe it, and so we insist on having proof. We know that God loves us beyond all measure, but look at how readily we assume he’s not answering our prayers. We know God is generous, but look at how stingy we are with our finances when the collection basket comes; we’re fearful that God won’t replenish and multiply what we give away.
Seeing miracles is wonderful, but this is not what gives us true belief in God’s love, because seeing is not believing. The disciples were able to see Jesus after his death. When they saw the truth, they knew that a miracle had happened — but they felt afraid. Their conversion to believing the truth and understanding what it meant did not happen until Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
When we pray for miracles, be they small or large, easily possible or seemingly impossible, we become true believers when we allow the Holy Spirit to give us new understanding and spiritual growth. Miracles are only bonuses of Christian living. The heart of Christian living is believing in God’s love for us, which occurs when we move beyond the desire for miracles into the realm of understanding that God is making everything work for our good and for the benefit of others.
In this we find much more joy and inner peace than miracles could ever give us.
Thank You, Lord, for encouraging me to be a witness of Your active presence in our world. Enlighten and empower me to take Your Word wherever You send me. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica