When the Risen Lord appeared to the apostles they were not expecting Him. They were surprised. We may ask: Has Jesus not foretold them more than once about his resurrection?
Sure, He did. But His death was so real. The fact paralyzed the attention of the Apostles. Their beloved master really died. He spoke no more. He was laid in the tomb. The two disciples who left Jerusalem for Emmaus were utterly down hearted.
Thomas who was absent when Jesus appeared the first time refused to believe that He is risen. Resurrection is not something to be taken for granted. It is bound to be a surprise, a glad surprise indeed.
Human beings are generally obstinate in optimism. They give up only when there is nothing more to support their hope. This total helplessness is felt when we face death. Death brings silence and darkness. It engulfs everything. There is no future.
Jesus’ resurrection has changed everything. There is still life after death. There is life without end. The shouts of Alleluia have broken the silence and the light has dispelled the darkness.
The Liturgical celebration brings back to us every year this breakthrough of life but it is always a surprise, a joyful surprise. Actually we find ourselves in a situation not very different from that of the apostles after Jesus’ burial.
Our resolution to do better vanished time and again into empty wishes. We do not do what we know to be good and we do what we know to be evil, as St. Paul himself confessed.
We preach the sacredness of marriage and the importance of family but the dominating culture goes in the diametrically opposite direction: disordered relations between man and woman, the family shaken at its foundation, the lack of desire to have children……what disaster is all this going to prepare for tomorrow we may not dare to imagine.
We care for the society. We defend justice and democracy without reticence but in return we get misunderstanding and rejection. The old policies persist with new tactics. We are tired, we are tempted to give up, a sense of frustration, of helplessness.
But Jesus comes again. “Do not be afraid!” He says, “I am the life and the resurrection. Rise up! I rose up only on the third day after my burial.” So let us get up once more! Let us allow Him to bring us again this year His surprising glad news!