“And it so happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but there eyes were prevented from seeing him.” (Luke 24:15)
Jesus’ followers saw him die, and they saw the tomb where he was laid. The trauma of his tortuous death was indelibly printed on their minds and would not be easily removed.
Now he was appearing before them, but they did not recognize him. Mary Magdalene did not recognize him until he said her name. The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize him though he walked with them until nearly dark explaining the scriptures. Only as he broke bread with them as they began to eat were their eyes opened. (Luke 34:13-35)
Overcoming our paradigm of death and its irreversible nature is no small matter. It was true for the disciples and it is true for us. Yet, that is exactly the hope that God offers on Easter morning in the person of his son, Jesus. With his resurrection he showed us that life does not end with our physical death. Who we are has less to do with our physical nature than with our soul and spirit, which are a created by God and mysteriously joined with our physical nature at conception.
Jesus bequeathed to both the disciples and us something to take the place of his physical presence – the Holy Spirit, which he described as giving us the power to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit enables the words of Jesus to become a reality in our lives — he is in us and we in him just as the Father is in him and he is in the Father. He says the result is that, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:12-13)
With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can experience Jesus’ personal presence in our daily lives. For me, this first happened on an October evening many years ago when I met him in a new and personal way. I see him every day in the big bright smile of our daughter born with Down syndrome whose many hugs reflect her natural inclination to love.
I see him in the love of my wife and all or our children and grandchildren as they respond to his love for them. I see him in the inmates of the local jail who accept the humility of their present circumstance and seek the sacrament of reconciliation. I see him in college students we know who postpone career decisions to serve him in Christian outreaches to impoverished areas and on College campuses. And, I experience him in the sacraments of the church.
Where do you see the risen Jesus?