Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily 4-13-23

Octave of Easter, Thursday, 4-13-23, Year A
Readings: First Reading Act 3:11-26; Ps 8: 2ab,5-9; Gospel Lk 24:35-48
Theme: Recognizing Truth

Pilot said to Jesus in the praetorium, “what is truth?” He did not recognize that the truth he was asking about was standing right in front him.

So many times, we gloss over evidence, facts, or truths that are right there in front of us. We are so busy with our lives and all the things we have to do that it is easy to look right past the most important things in our lives. Things like faith, hope, and love.

For the disciples and many of Jesus’s followers never really understood the truth Jesus was telling them. That He must suffer, be killed, and rise on the third day in order to strengthen our faith, provide hope in this world, and give us unending love to carry us through to heaven. When the events of Jesus’s passion actually took place, it was so horrifying and finite that they completely forgot their faith in Jesus’s words,

 “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn 2:19)

Death is an absolute, a final end to life as they knew it on Earth. As much as the disciples listened, followed, and saw Jesus perform miracles, they really never understood the height, depth, and width of His love for them or the meaning of His words. Jesus only ever spoke the truth, there was no duplicity in Him. So why didn’t the disciples rejoice on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion, knowing they would see Him again as He said? It is because they only knew what they had experienced in their earthly life and death was absolute, there was no coming back from that. Oh, ye of little faith!

We, too, can look at our experiences here on earth as absolutes, like death and taxes.  Our measure of all things in this earthly life are based on our experiences, what we can touch, feel, see, hear, and smell. It is hard for us to transcend these core experiences and look to something otherworldly, like faith, hope, and yes, even love. Can we truly trust in something that seems outside of our limited human reach, beyond the reality of our senses? Can we stretch our mind into a world of spirit, faith, and hope, to a new truth that our senses cannot sense but only our soul can if we let it?

This is what Jesus was trying to get the disciples to understand in the upper room. Even when He suddenly appeared, with no opening of a door, no coming out from hiding in a closet, but, appearing right in their midst, they still could not believe what they were sensing. In the absence of any other explanation, they resorted to what they knew, that He must be a ghost or apparition. To prove He was real, He ate some fish in front of them. Then He disappeared again, just as He came.

Jesus brought them all to a higher understanding that goes beyond their human experience and their senses and opened the truth of the scriptures to them and how all of it points to Himself.

If Pilot had known the answer to his question to Jesus about truth, that Jesus must die and rise again in three days to save all humanity, he would still have turned Him over to the Jews to be killed, knowing He would rise on the third day and be granted eternal life. Pilot’s truth was Jesus’s words to him after Pilot said to Jesus that he had the power to release Him or crucify Him. Jesus said to him in return,

 “You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above.” (Jn 19:11)

That same power was on display when Peter and John became the conduit for God’s work curing the crippled man at the Temple gate. What power they had was not their own but was given to them by God above.

In the end, anything is possible with God, we only have to believe beyond our human senses and understanding and truly recognize the truth in who Jesus is and that anything is possible with Him.

When you listen to the word of God in scripture and hear His words of truth and salvation, do not just give them a passing glance or measure them by your experiences and knowledge here on Earth, but take them into your soul where they can be received and understood in the heavenly realm of Christ. St. Paul explains this transcendent reality when he said,

“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9)

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL