On Our Lord’s Appearance to the Apostles.
Imagine yourself a witness of the animated scene depicted in to-day’s Gospel. On the evening of the Paschal Feast the apostles are assembled in the cenaculum; they are discussing the tidings told to them by the women. Alternately inspired with fresh hopes and assailed by cruel doubts, they waver between hope and fear; and while their souls are thus tortured with perplexity, suddenly Jesus, their fondly loved Master, whose loss they have so deeply deplored during the last few days, stands in their midst and salutes them with the loving words: “Peace be with you.” (St. John xx. 19.)
1st. Our Lord appeared to the apostles later than to the women, on the one hand as a slight punishment for the weakness which they had displayed during the Passion, and on the other for the purpose of kindling within them a more vivid desire and longing for Him by the delay, and thereby increasing their joy at seeing Him again; for we know that the more intensely one longs for anything, the more one rejoices when one becomes possessed of it. How often, my soul, has it happened that you have ardently craved some grace or favor from God; you have cherished some wish, some desire which appeared to you most excellent and useful, but the Lord has postponed the accomplishment of your desire, He has withheld the coveted favor either for your correction, or because you are not yet worthy to receive it, or for your greater good, as you will see later on. Look into your past life and you will find in it a corroboration of these words of the author of the Imitation: “Desires often inflame thee and hurry thee on violently; but ponder well whether it be for the honor of God or thine own interest that thou art rather moved.” (B. iii. ch. 11.) Very often the delay in granting your desire has the effect of making you pay greater attention to Him whose honor alone ought to be your chief concern, your God.
2d. Consider that our Lord appeared to the apostles when the doors were shut. By this Christ intends to signify to us that if His servants would enjoy the happiness of receiving Him as their Guest, they ought to keep their door closely shut, the door, that is, of their heart. Jesus is a jealous God. He will tolerate no rival. The more carefully you close your house, the less easily will strange guests obtain access to it, the less is the intrusion of the world, of evil passions to be feared, and then the more surely you may count on the coming of that heavenly Visitor through the closed portals of your heart, who on this day rejoiced the apostles by His presence. “Shut thy door upon thee and call to thee Jesus, thy beloved; stay with Him in thy cell, for nowhere else wilt thou find so great peace.” (Imit.B. ii. ch. 20.) Lay to heart this saying; cleanse your house this very day from all that has no right to be there; banish certain propensities, habits, attachments; then shut the door and, like the apostles, await in holy tranquillity the coming of your Lord.
3d. Consider how kind our Lord is to the apostles. They do not hear a single word from His lips concerning their dastardly desertion of Him; He only wishes them peace, peace after the troublous, calamitous days that are past. Nay, He goes so far in His charity and condescension as actually to partake of fish and honeycomb in their presence in order to banish all fear and set them at their ease, although in His glorified state He has no need of food for His support. Admire the charity which our Lord manifested towards His disciples, and which He has often manifested towards you. Learn also of Him in like manner on your part to stoop, out of charity towards your neighbor, to perform for him some trifling service that may perhaps seem hardly becoming to your superior position and to your personal dignity. Humility is never derogatory to our office or person; on the contrary, it places them in a better light and reflects honor upon them. Wherefore practise some such little act of charity this day, and place before our Lord, who to-day comes to dwell in your heart, some oblation of this description; instead of the broiled fish offer Him an act of mortification and penance, and please Him with the sweet honey of holy devotion during divine worship this day.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
Copyright © 2013. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.