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Friday, April 17, 2020

Reflection 2020-04-17 Friday of the Octave of Easter

Acts 4:1-12; Psalm 118; John 21:1-14
As we move towards the end of the Octave, we also come towards the end of the Resurrection apparition of Jesus to his disciples. In the Gospel today, we get a sense of calm among the disciples. The disciples, led by Peter went fishing that night and caught nothing. But at daybreak, a man appears on the shore and calls to them and tells them to cast the net to the right side of the boat. The disciples obeyed and they caught a lot of fish. Peter jumped into the water to swim to Jesus while the others pulled the catch on the boat. As they reached the shore, they saw fire and fish on it and bread. Jesus tells them to bring some of their catch. Peter hauled the catch to the shore. Then Jesus invites them to the breakfast he prepared. John then writes this: none of the disciples dared to ask him “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. In all the Resurrection accounts we have read these past few days, there is always Jesus being close to the person and yet, the person would not recognize him. Here, the disciples did not recognize Jesus but they KNEW it was the Lord.
This shows that in our life, we do not need to recognize Jesus as long as we know it is him. When we encounter the Risen Jesus, we will encounter, not a different Person, but a different aspect of him. This is why we should not put Jesus in a box and say “This is how he works. This is how he speaks”. The Resurrection opens a new horizon to us, a new opportunity to see Jesus from a different perspective.
This is the difficulty of the rulers, elders and scribes in the First Reading. They have seen the healing of the lame man. There was no discussion on whether the man was healed or not. The discussion was By what power or by what name did you do this? The rulers could not or would not understand how the man was healed. They could not believe the name of Jesus healed the man because they could not believe he rose from the dead. It is this lack of openness to the movement of God that prevented them from seeing what was before them. They were so zealous of their belief they think God will not work this way. They limited God to their own ideas. Which is why they rejected Jesus in the first place, because they could not accept the power of God would be revealed through Jesus.
Yet, for Peter and John and the Apostles, they had gone beyond the point of recognizing Jesus based on their past experience of him, to opening their minds so they can know him. This openness to God revealing himself is, as the Responsorial Psalm says, marvelous to our eyes. The Psalm shows how we can accept God’s revelation of himself: Save us, we beseech you, O Lord. We will only see God’s revelation of himself when we rely on him rather than on our own limited capabilities. While we use our reason to process the data about God, we need God to infuse his grace to this reason so we can have faith. Faith is based on reason. It has to be reasonable. But it requires God’s supernatural grace so we can come to a supernatural conclusion about him, because God is beyond our reason and intellect.
How is this relevant to what we are experiencing now.
While this pandemic is not caused by God, God uses this for his purpose. Perhaps, he is using this to reveal another aspect of himself to us. Whatever that is, he is personally revealing himself to you. Call to God, speak to him. Come as you are, in fear, in doubts, in anger, in emptiness, in brokenness, in your sins, in your joys, in your victories, in your sufferings. God wants to reveal himself to you. We just need to open our hearts and see what he has done. The Psalm today says This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad. This is the day God has made, to reveal himself to you, to show you another aspect of himself. You will not recognize him, but the important thing is to KNOW him, through the events happening in your life. Yes, God is in your life, even if it is not going as you planned, especially if it is not going as you planned. Because God is giving you something new, something greater, something infinitely and perfectly good for you.
Lord, I come as I am. I do not see you, yet, I know you hear me. I turn to you, trusting you are in my situation, that you are concerned about me, that you love me as I am. I reject my sins, and I open my heart to you, so you can take control of my life. I am tired Lord of doing things on my own. Save me, I ask you. O Lord, help me. And I bless you as you come in the name of the Lord to heal me and to lead me to your will, in Jesus’ name.

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