Second Sunday of Easter Year C
April 7, 2013
THAT HIS SHADOW MIGHT FALL ON US!
The night of March 13, I chose not to sleep. I decided to stay up and wait for the white smoke, as I had the hunch things would accelerate that night. Being seven hours ahead of Rome, it was time for bed. The white smoke came at more or less 2 AM. But when the shadow of the new Pope’s image fell on the whole world, brought by the miracle of mass communications and the internet in my case, going back to bed was out of the question. I was energized. I was excited. And I got a big boost to my faith as I saw the throngs at St. Peter’s square, show a groundswell of support for the new Bishop of Rome.
Today, the readings all show this same energy, the same excitement, a similar jolt that comes from the Risen Lord. “Signs and wonders” were what the apostles did, and “a large number of people” also gathered to experience the same. For his part, John, who witnessed the Risen Lord in a vision, was told to “write down” everything he had seen.
But although I got a little push to my faith that early morning of March 14, I must confess that, like Thomas the doubter, I, too, can pose obstacles to totally and readily believing the power of the Risen Lord to change the world. The disciples were cooped up in the upper room “for fear of the Jews.” But just as soon as they saw the Risen Lord, “the disciples rejoiced.”
All of them, except one, who played coy for he was too demanding to believe what others said. He insisted that believing without seeing was not exactly his cup of tea. He demanded not only to see, but also to touch … the wounds, the hands, the side.
There are many of us in the Church who are, well … like me … like Thomas … Some of us are too demanding. I will cooperate and do my share of evangelization only if the parish priest gets changed … I will give my contribution only if others do the same … I will say sorry provided the other guy does it first … I will do evangelization work just as soon as I am done sending my children to school … when I will have enough free time on my hands …
Matthew Kelly calls them “disengaged Catholics.” According to his findings, there are so few really “dynamic Catholics” in our parishes. Most of us are “fair-weather” Christians, who only come when we need something from the Lord, from the Church. Sometimes, those who are perceived as “active” parishioners are those who belong to clubs or groups who “lord it over others” and safeguard their own traditions and comfort zones. They seem actively involved, but not actually engaged in the work that God wants, but only the work they want.
Sometimes, like me, like Thomas, they are too demanding. They will choose to serve, only if they get their own domesticated pastor, who will do their every wish, or who would always be at their beck and call.
But there is hope for me, for you, and for everyone who may not fit the title “dynamic Catholics” as of yet. Like Thomas, who initially doubted, and who initially put demanding conditions before believing, but who in the end capitulated in faith, hope and love, we, too can change … from fear to excitement … from inactivity to dedicated and committed service … from acting out of one’s needs to acting on the basis of what the Church and others need.
This is simply called conversion. The frightened disciples did it. When the shadow of the Risen Lord fell on them, they got into rejoicing mode and went right down to evangelizing others and bringing them to the Christ.
In the first reading, people wished that at least the shadow of Peter might fall on them. It did, in my case, in the early dawn of March 14! When Pope Francis came out of the main loggia, and blessed the city and the world, it was like as if Peter’s shadow fell on my weak heart and even weaker faith, and gave me courage and strength and new hope.
May that shadow continue to fall on each and everyone of you. And should that happen anytime now, may our prayer be like that of the beaten doubter who saw for himself and uttered with love and faith: “My Lord and my God!”