Spiritual Knowledge From Within April 14, 2024


Third Sunday of Easter (Year B)
Readings for Today

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“Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” Luke 24:38–39

Imagine if Jesus appeared to you. What if He showed you the wounds in His hands and feet and invited you to touch Him so as to believe. Would you believe? Most likely you would, to a certain extent. It would be the beginning of an experience that could be life-changing, just as it was for these disciples. Our Lord’s appearance to the disciples led to their transformation from men who were confused and doubtful to men who were filled with joy and zeal. Eventually, they would go forth preaching about Jesus as witnesses to His death and Resurrection with courage and with a desire that all who heard them would turn to Jesus as their Savior.

In the first reading of today’s Mass, Saint Peter is recorded as doing this very thing. After healing a crippled man at the gate of the Temple, a crowd gathered in amazement and Peter preached to them about Jesus. He concluded His sermon by saying, “God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

Today, we are entrusted with the same mission given to our Lord’s disciples, and we must preach with the same zeal, courage and conviction with which they preached. First, we must become as certain as they were about Jesus’ triumph over sin and death. We must turn from all sin and believe that the fullness of life is found only in Christ Jesus. But then we must commit ourselves to the proclamation of this faith with every fiber of our being.

Begin by considering how deeply you believe in Jesus as the Savior of the World. Though it might be tempting to think that having Jesus appear to you in person would help deepen your faith in Him, the truth is that the first disciples were not primarily convinced because of the physical appearances of Jesus. Rather, this gift came primarily through the spiritual touching of their minds. After appearing to the disciples physically, we read that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” This was what convinced them more than anything—the spiritual gift of understanding. And that gift is offered to you today, just as it was to the first followers of Jesus.

Saint Thomas Aquinas explains that the spiritual gift of understanding is a gift that reveals to us the very essence of God. He explains that it is a much deeper form of knowledge than that which is obtained through our five senses. Thus, simply seeing something with our eyes, touching it or hearing it is not nearly as convincing as the knowledge obtained through the spiritual gift of understanding. The gift of understanding enables us to “read inwardly” and to penetrate the very essence of something. For that reason, the physical appearance of Jesus might have been the first step toward believing, but it wasn’t until these same disciples encountered our Lord within their souls, perceiving the very essence of His Resurrection inwardly, that they were forever changed. Only this form of knowledge could then convince them to go forth and proclaim the message of salvation.

Reflect, today, upon your own knowledge of Jesus and the transforming power of His Resurrection in your life. Has God spoken to you within the depths of your soul? Have you perceived this inward knowledge and had your mind opened? Listen attentively to our Lord—not just with your ears but primarily with your spirit. It is there, within you, that you, like the first disciples, will come to know and believe in the life, death and resurrection of Christ so that you can then go forth empowered to proclaim these truths to others.

My revealing Lord, You showed Yourself to Your disciples not only physically but spiritually, revealing Your very essence to them interiorly. Please bestow this gift upon me, dear Lord. May I come to know You and believe in You with all my heart. As I do, please use me as an instrument of Your mercy to others. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

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Featured images above: Appearance of Jesus to the disciples, fresco in the basilica of Saint Andrew in Mantua, Italy, via Adobe