Phase Four (4) Encountering the risen Lord (The Way of the Light)
…. Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ……., .(1 Peter 1:3)
Our increasingly hyper-digital age, it can be easy to forget the living presence of the risen Lord in our concrete human lives. Where then, and how, do we encounter Jesus each day, an encounter bound to change our lives and make us happy and joyful? Inspired by the rich magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI and the continued focus and approach of Pope Francis, I propose three places to meet the living Jesus. First, Jesus is alive in his word, the inspired Gospel stories and the living tradition of our church. Second, we meet Jesus in the sacraments, especially in regular participation in both the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation. And third, we meet Jesus in our loving service to those in need, those who live on the periphery of society.
Week 1 : Self-surrender to God leads to encounter with Love
Jesus, ever the Teacher, stresses the need for knowledge of the Scripture. But the real experience that puts the disciples over the top is a personal encounter with the risen Savior. Down through the ages, the Church’s record of those who have come to know the transforming power of his living presence in their lives: Paul, Constantine, Francis, Margaret Mary, Ignatius of Loyola and people like Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
A person can know a lot about Jesus; that is the only begotten Son of God, born of Mary, who lived, suffered, died, and rose. But one only be created anew by the awesome experience of his real presence. It is for us to seek this encounter every day of our lives. Blessed Mother Teresa presents it this way: “if we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love , we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”
- Do you know the joy of the resurrection?
- Do you believe in the good news of the Gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring you new life, hope, and joy?
- How many times have we failed to recognize the presence of the Lord in our lives?
- How do we assess our faithfulness to the resurrection of Christ?
- Are we easily swayed by counter claims by popular public opinions that challenge the truth, the risen Lord?
- Do we seek to verify authenticity and truth by developing our love for God and our fellow men to build the Kingdom of God?
- Is hope a factor in our Christian commitment?
Week 2 : Denial into Affirmation
The primary purposes in recounting the appearance of the Risen Christ to his Apostles were to rehabilitate Peter who had denied Jesus three times, then had repented, and to stress the actual conferring of Primacy in the Church on Peter. Jesus questioned Peter prior to commissioning him to tend the flock, was love. This is the basic qualification for Christian service.
Other qualities may be desirable, but love is completely indispensable. Peter’s rehabilitation is a celebration of Divine Grace. As the shepherd appointed by the True Shepherd, to do as He did, to care for the sheep, Peter also symbolizes leadership.
- Why didn’t the apostles immediately recognize the Risen Lord Jesus when he greeted them at the Sea of Tiberias.
- Why did Jesus choose to reveal himself to the apostles at the Sea of Galilee -and right after they had spent a whole night of futile fishing?
- Do you love the Risen Lord more than all else?
- Why did Jesus question Peter’s love and loyalty three times in front of the other disciples?
- What can hold us back from giving him our undivided love and unqualified loyalty (Romans 8:38-39)?
- Do you recognize the Lord’s presence with you and do you listen for his voice as he speaks to you in your heart and through the word of God in the Sacred Scriptures?
- What benefit could Peter confer on Christ by the mere fact of his loving Christ?
Week 3: The Good Shepherd and Guardian of our souls
Jesus speaks of the tremendous trust he has in God his Father and the tremendous trust we ought to have in him because he is our good shepherd. God used the image of a shepherd to describe his covenant relationship and care for his chosen people who were called by his name. Jesus, God’s anointed Messiah and King, born from the tribe of David, called himself the Good Shepherd of the people whom his Father had entrusted to his care.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd invites us to follow him even on rough paths, listening to his voice, spreading his light to others and leading all people into the one fold. The Lord Jesus wants to draw each of us close to himself. He wants us to be united with him and the Father. Every Christian is called to be both a follower of Christ and a shepherd for others through love and care.
- How secure is your faith and trust in God?
- What is the significance of Jesus calling himself the Good Shepherd?
- Do you recognize the voice of your Shepherd and Guardian who calls to you each day?
- Will you answer his call and welcome his presence with you?
- How do we listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd in our families?
- What responsibilities does God give a shepherd (each Priest and every Baptized person) today exactly?
- What does all this have to do with us this week?
Week 4: The Criterion of Our Love
Though we pass through some cavalries in our faith journey, the hope of our future glory and the loving support from one another will lead us to final triumph. We are quickly bored with someone reciting his troubles and we willingly avoid the sight of distress. We lament as if it were a major crisis. Yet one has to be realistic.
As Christians we are friends in Christ and friendship is not a feeling. Such as we have when comfortably filled with roast beef: it is living and sharing. We have right to expect loving support from one another to sustain our spirits in times of hardships. This is why Jesus asked us “to love each other as he has loved us” (John 13:34).
- What is this new thing God invites us to see?
- How does God reveal his glory to us?
- What is this that Jesus speaks of his glory and the glory of his Father?
- What can hold us back from loving the One who suffered and died for us and who offers us abundant joy and happiness with him forever?
- How can we love one another as Christ has loved us?
- How will we respond?” Will we, with Peter, seek and accept the hope, the promise, and the glory that Jesus Christ offers us all? Or will we sink into this world’s despair?
- Do you think there’s nothing new in our world? Will we settle for only the glitz and glitter of this world, its thirty pieces of silver, and thereby sell our souls for nothing more?
Week 5 : The True Nature of Peace
The peace of Christ is more than the absence of trouble. It includes everything which makes for our highest good. The world’s approach to peace is avoidance of trouble and a refusal to face unpleasant things. Jesus offers the peace which conquers our fears and anxieties. Nothing can take us from the peace and joy of Jesus Christ. No sorrow or grief, no danger, no suffering can make it less.
Through the gift and work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, the Lord Jesus shows us how to yield our passions of anger, fear, and pride to him so we can receive his gift of peace. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and strengthens us with his gifts and supernatural virtues which enable us to live as wise and holy disciples of Christ.
- Do you know the love that surpasses all, that is stronger than death itself (Song of Songs 8:6)?
- How can we know and be assured of the love of God?
- Do you listen attentively to God’s word and believe it?
- Do you know the peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)?
- In his farewell discourse Jesus grants peace as his gift to his disciples. What kind of peace does he offer? Do you live in the peace of Jesus Christ?
- How can we attain the peace which the Lord Jesus offers his followers?
- Is it because we too don’t feel at home here and would like to go to our real home?
Week 6 : Ultimate Meeting Point.
Jesus’ departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus’ physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus’ presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time (Matthew 28:20).
Now as the glorified and risen Lord and Savior, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would anoint them with power from on high on the Feast of Pentecost, just as Jesus was anointed for his ministry at the River Jordan (Luke 3:21-22, 4:1,18). When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left in sorrow or grief. Instead, they were filled with joy and with great anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
- Why did Jesus leave his disciples forty days after his resurrection?
- Why did the Risen Lord ascend into heaven?
- How can we be effective witnesses for Christ?
- Do you believe in the power of the Gospel to change and transform your life?
- Do you witness to others the joy of the Gospel and the hope of the resurrection?
- In our family is prayer dispensable- or indispensable?
- In returning to his Father, what does Jesus give to us, his disciples?
Week 7 : Be filled with the Holy Spirit!
The Holy Spirit is given to all who are baptized into Jesus Christ to enable us to live a new way of life – a life of love, peace, joy, and righteousness (Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:7), and he gives us the strength and courage we need in order to live as faith-filled disciples of the Lord Jesus.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and enables us to grow in spiritual freedom – freedom from doubt, fear, and from slavery to our unruly desires (2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:21). The Spirit instructs us in the ways of God, and guides us in living according to God’s will. The Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness. Isaiah foretold the seven-fold gifts that the Spirit would give: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
The gift of Pentecost – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the spiritual gifts and blessings of God – are made possible through the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus. After his resurrection Jesus “breathed” on his disciples and gave them the Holy Spirit. Just as God breathed life into Adam, so the gift of the Holy Spirit is an impartation of “new life” for his people. With the gift of the Holy Spirit a new creation begins. God recreates us for his glory. Jesus’ gift of peace to his disciples was more than an absence of trouble. His peace included the forgiveness of sins and the fullness of everything good.
- Do you know and experience in your own life the gift and power of the Holy Spirit?
- Why did they need power from on high?
- Do you want power to live a faith-filled life as a disciple of Jesus?
- If this is the foretaste, what must the reality be?
- If these are the first fruits, what must be the harvest?
- Do you thirst for God and for the abundant life he offers through the gift of his Spirit?
- How do we help the poor to find the way which will lead them to God?
…to till…..to keep……(Gen 2:15)
for Thy Kingdom Come (HGN)
Fr Zevier Hirudayaraj Arockiam, HGN