He was among them
Two things stand out to me in the readings for this coming Sunday. The first is hearing that Jesus appeared with the disciples while the door was locked due to their fear. I am fascinated with this part of the reading: “He was among them.” Well of course he was among them; he had spent the better part of his ministry teaching them, living with them, and sharing his faith with them. They knew Him intimately, as well as his Father. Did he need to be there physically to be among them? I don’t believe so; yet, it then states that he shared peace with them and proceeded to show them his wounds from crucifixion. They then rejoiced “when they saw the Lord”. There are a number of times after his resurrection that Jesus is with people for some time before they realize it is him. Isn’t this the same for us? How often do we need to be reminded that Jesus is always among us; or that we are called to see the face of Jesus when we look at others? Even though we may know Him intimately; we don’t always recognize Jesus right away. And is it usually in others suffering that we recognize him? Is this why Jesus shared his wounds with the disciples, so that they could recognize him?
The other thing that I notice is that in both readings we hear about the Holy Spirit giving the disciples the gift of language. Language can be defined as: a system of communication used by a particular country or community. In order to share the Good news with new communities, we need to be able to talk with them. People from other places often speak another language, and in order to evangelize, we need to learn to communicate with them. Further to this, if we weren’t meant to reach out to other communities, why would we need the gift of another language? The gift from the Holy Spirit. This must mean that we are called to be with people from other places and communities; often with those that are not like us.
This was something that was very dear to St. Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He was driven by the belief that we are all God’s children, regardless of which community we belong to. And in order to reach out to other communities, he found it necessary to learn their language. This is a gift that he had, that remains important to Oblates today. I encourage you to research St. Eugene to learn more about him.
And so, how will we reach out to communities that are not our own? Are we willing to learn and speak the language of those not like us? Will we try and recognize Christ among us and others? Will we let others into our suffering in order to let them see Christ in us? As we read today, Jesus can come through locked doors to be with us. All we have to do is be willing to see him among us.
By Serena Shaw