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May 5, 2019
[St. John the Baptist Church, Kalihi; Resurrection of the Lord Church, Waipio; St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua (Confirmations and First Communions)]
Have you ever noticed that Jesus had different ways of revealing himself after he rose from the dead? I once saw a painting of Jesus meeting Mary Magdalene outside his tomb. He was dressed with a dirty tunic, a floppy hat, and a hoe on his shoulder. She thought he was the gardener because he may have been having fun with her, appearing to her in gardener’s clothing. On another occasion Jesus was taking a long walk with two of his disciples who were discouraged that the one in whom they had put so much hope was gone, having been put to death on a cross just three days before. They journeyed seven miles together, but they did not recognize him until he sat at table with them, took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. On several other occasions, the risen Jesus just appeared in a locked room. And in the gospel we see today, he offers an amazing breakfast to his disciples, and many more meals to follow in the great catch of fish they made at his urging. In the Gospels, Jesus appears in different ways, and “he revealed himself in this way” took many forms. He was not always recognized at first, but eventually he was.
Now that was back 2,000 years ago. The miracle is that Jesus still reveals himself to us in different ways. He is not dead, but alive, but he sometimes appears in different “disguises.”
On the night of the resurrection of the Lord, he appeared in that locked room. Instead of scolding his disciples who had denied him and abandoned him, he says, “Peace be with you!” and he breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Isn’t that exactly what he is doing right here today as we celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation? I am certainly not Jesus, but the bishop is chosen and ordained to be his special representative in the Church, to make him sacramentally present. And I will mark and seal each of you who are to be confirmed with Sacred Chrism, saying, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Then I will say, “Peace be with you!” And at the end of Mass the deacon, who makes Jesus the Servant sacramentally present will say, “Go, and announce the gospel of the Lord.” In other words, Jesus is appearing right here before you today in a sacramental way and doing exactly what he did to his disciples the night of the resurrection.
On the day of the resurrection, Jesus walked seven miles with two disciples who finally recognized him “in the breaking of the bread.” Isn’t that what Jesus is doing here today – and does every time we celebrate the Eucharist? We can plod along with the same old songs, the same old readings, the same old homilies, the same old people, and not recognize that Jesus is with us at this breaking of bread. He just spoke to us when we heard his Word. He will be physically present to us when the bread and wine are changed into his Body and Blood. And if we were just getting together here to give you bread and wine, do you think we would bother making such a festive celebration? In fact, you never receive bread and wine at the Mass, but the Body and Blood of the risen and living Jesus. He does not ever want you to think of him as someone you encounter on the pages of a history book, but as someone who is alive, and with you and who loves you so much he wants to not just give you food, but be your food and drink, so that he can show you how much he loves you.
But the risen Jesus does not only reveal himself in this church. He is present wherever his Body is present, and because we are filled with his Holy Spirit and come into intimate communion with him in the Eucharist, we become what we eat. We become the Body of Christ, so that he can live in our families, bringing them his undying love in spite of struggles. He can be in our schools, helping us know the truth, even while others are making up what they would like the truth to be. He can be in our groups of friends, so that he can strengthen us to give us bullying, gossiping, or other things we do that hurt others, and draw us together to live in the peace and harmony we all desire.
Jesus revealed himself in many ways way back then, but he continues to do so, because he is risen from the dead. We express our love for him again and again, like Peter, because it is that love that will enable us to feed many with his healing love, and to bring in for him a catch of people that will amaze us. We only need to have the eyes of faith to see.