Even though Mary Magdalene ran, exclaiming to the Apostles, “I have seen the Lord! ” they did not believe her and remained hiding and locked in a room, fearful that they too would be arrested. Imagine their shock and joy when Jesus actually came to them through the locked doors, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” I can imagine Jesus having a smile of forgiveness on his face when he said that.
Today’s Scripture makes reference to our Triune God when Jesus said to them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. …” and called on the Holy Spirit to be with them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
With that, what a tremendous change came over the Twelve! All fear melted away after their encounters with Jesus and they set out to carry on what they had seen Jesus do for so many, not only among the Jewish people, but also in other lands, fearlessly proclaiming Jesus to be the Lord.
Acts 2: 43 tells us that “awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the Apostles… and day by day the Lord added to their numbers.” The wonders and signs they saw were acts of compassion and love done in the name of Jesus. This opened the eyes of those who saw and they, too, believed.
In Peter’s First Letter he praised the young Church in Asia Minor, which was being persecuted because of their faith in Christ saying: “Even though you have not seen him you love him. … You believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy … receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Pt. 1:8- 9.
The Vatican recently reported that there a 1.3 billion Catholics throughout the world today, and that’s not counting Christians of other churches.
I have seen the faith grow in remote villages in the South Sudan, where at first, people were amazed upon hearing of the love and compassion that Jesus showed to all and of God, the Creator of all, who loves them. Although they had never met Jesus, his love shone through and enkindled the fire of love in their own hearts, so that they, too, became followers of Christ.
One night a man was caught attacking the young daughter of Maria, one of our parishioners. When the elders of the village gathered for a trial, they found the man guilty. Maria was asked what payment the offender should give her in retribution, she replied, “Oh no, I’m a Christian. I forgive him.”
Some of us have been called to go and witness to God’s love in other lands, but Pope Francis reminds us that by our Baptism, we have all been commissioned to be missionary disciples, wherever we are. If we take time out everyday to stop and listen through prayer and contemplation, we become more and more aware of the presence of our loving God within us and that we have seen the Lord!
Maryknoll Sister Mary Ellen Manz, who has served in Chile, Sudan and the United States, is the Maryknoll Sisters liaison for Maryknoll and Misioneros magazines.
Featured image: Maryknoll Sister Mary Ellen Manz is shown surrounded by students in the grade school she helped start for Toposa children in the village of Nanyangachor. (Sean Sprague/Sudan)