How Seeing the Risen Christ Benefited the Disciples

caravaggio_incredulity_st_thomas1

After the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, He remained on earth for forty days. His disciples got to see Him again. When we get to heaven, please God, we will see Him, too. [Spanish]

In the meantime, let’s consider some of the things that ran through the minds and hearts of the disciples when they saw their Master risen from the dead.

First: When they saw the Lord, the disciples grasped some important, currently invisible facts.

Fact one: The death of the body does not mean that the soul is destroyed.  The soul lives on.

Two: The separation of the soul from the body which occurs at death is not permanent. The power of God united our souls and bodies in the first place. He will re-unite all human souls and bodies at the end of time.

Three: The disciples clearly saw that death is not the final state of mankind.  God did not make us to die; He made us to live.  Our hearts long for undying love, for a fullness of life that is stronger than death. We can have such a life, such a love.

There is more: Seeing Christ changed the way the disciples understood their own pilgrim lives on earth. Christ rose from the dead in His wounded Body. He proceeded to visit the places where He had lived and done His work. In other words, His glorious, undying life filled the familiar places—Jerusalem, Galilee.

st albans psalter road to emmaus

For the disciples, to see Christ in the world was to see the world redeemed. This world involves more than just death and taxes. It is the place where Christ, the conqueror of sin and death, walked, talked, and ate, during the time between His resurrection and His Ascension.

When the disciples saw Christ risen from the dead, they learned these truths which currently elude our eyes. They also experienced profound comfort. They were with their beloved teacher and friend again. Just to be with Him was the greatest comfort of all. But along with it came four other comforts, too.

One: When the Lord died, evil seemed to triumph over truth and goodness. But in fact the opposite happened. Good proved to be infinitely stronger than evil. God proved to be infinitely stronger than the devil. Satan had his day, but that day passed. In the end, God won.

Two: Christ had given His disciples many hopeful teachings about the loving care of the heavenly Father, about the sweetness of the kingdom of God, about the rewards that await everyone who strives to serve God faithfully.

When the Lord was killed, the disciples began to wonder if all these hopeful teachings were really true. Their hearts broke with the thought that their Teacher could have been wrong about all the enchanting things He said. As the disciples put it, on the road to Emmaus: “We hoped he would be the one who would redeem Israel. But…”

When Christ came back from the dead, He definitively dispelled these doubts. Lord Jesus was right all along. The heavenly Father is kind and merciful. His Kingdom does come, with all its peace and happiness. Faithfulness will be rewarded.

Third comfort: Christ had always been very good at showing His friends how much He loved them. But now He showed them in an altogether more wonderful way. To conquer death for them—to die, and then come back to them from the dead! What greater sign of love could there be?

resurrection

A fourth consolation for the disciples had to do with the human body.  As it is for us now, the human body is magnificent, but it bears many marks of sin. There’s the fact that we all inevitably die, plus other signs of the mortality of the flesh, like: bad smells emanating from our bodies, rickety-ness of our bones and joints, getting tired, getting crabby, bleary eyes, bad hair (or no hair), illnesses, corns, acne, bad teeth, earwax buildup, athlete’s foot, etc.

When the disciples saw Christ’s glorious resurrected body, they realized that all these marks of human bodily mortality are temporary. When we rise again in the resurrection on the last day, please God, we will have no blisters, no postnasal drip, no food allergies, no cataracts—no bodily problems of any kind.

Last but not least, after He came back from the dead, the Lord Jesus gave His friends additional assurances about His love and care for them. He forgave them for abandoning Him. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to remain with them always. He gave them the power to forgive sins. He promised to prepare a place for them in heaven.

Some day, please God, we will see Christ like the disciples did and share in their clarity and their joy. In the meantime, we can share in the joy of the Resurrection by believing in it.

3 thoughts on “How Seeing the Risen Christ Benefited the Disciples

  1. This journey of faith is a beautiful thing! Our humanity coupled with the grace of God allows us to experience these seasons that we repeat every year with a newness that often surpasses our best memories of previous seasons and experiences!

    This year, as I have listened to and re-read the homilies for the first three Sundays of the Easter season, I am struck by the call to believe in the reality of the resurrection, truly believe, not just acknowledge and gloss over, but truly sink our teeth into and accept with a certainty that can only come from God.
    Thank you, Fr. Mark

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