April 22, 2012
CONVINCED APOSTLES: RESURRECTION
April 22, 2012
Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
This most eventful day witnesses many happenings. This day of great
affairs changes the Apostles, and these deeds change our living.
We inquire: In what city did these events occur? In Jerusalem, for this is
the central city of the Jewish nation, the capital that centers the thinking
of the Jews in the first century, the place of the holy temple from which
radiates the mode of a theocracy. While other tribes fear their pagan
gods, the Jews honor one God. They hold their scriptures to be inspired.
When does this occur? On the first day of the week, on Sunday. Reports
of Jesus having risen from the dead come to Peter very early on Sunday,
not long after dawn. Mary Magdalene had rushed to the retreat in the
upper room and, in shock and excitement, claims that the tomb is empty,
that seemingly unknown people stole the body of the crucified and
Who heard these reports? Peter, the leader, and John the Evangelist
heard Mary Magdalene gush out what she experienced at the tomb.
Eleven apostles remained in the upper room, for this provides them a
gathering spot after the frightening crucifixion of Friday. If the High
Priests had tortured their leader to death, those same people could do the
same with His followers. Out of fear, these Apostles and a few disciples
stayed in this room. They perhaps had nibbled on the remains of their
Thursday night banquet; they managed to doze on the floor, although
you would not use the term “sleep.” They had secured the door.
What do these Apostles hear? “Peace,” says Jesus, “peace be with you.”
This traditional scriptural greeting startles the Apostles, for they
recognize the voice of Jesus. On today’s telephone, you recognize the
voice of your relative or your friend. These people hear the familiar tone
and expression of Jesus. Further, the expression “Peace” suggests a
relation with God; it is a familiar greeting, as regular as our saying in
Mass, “The Lord be with you.” That expression reminds the Apostles of
their religious faith, of their covenant with God. That reaction within the
Apostles is a recognized grace exciting them to think of God.
How are the Apostles affected? At first, the apostles are startled. Jesus
stands among them. A quick, involuntary jerk up of the head rattles
these men. Surprise quickens their pulse. Then terror grabs them.
Terrorized by reports of war’s atrocities, people flee from war (Luke
21:9). Peter and others now feel such a terror sweep over them. That
terrible trembling gives way to fear; the women at the tomb experienced
a similar fear; these apostles had reason to be afraid. They feared that
what had happened to Jesus might now happen to themselves. The
Apostles feared arrest, and they feared being made to stand before the
Sanhedrin for questioning, and they feared the terrible scourging. Fear
haunted these men. At first, they thought of Jesus as a ghost, so they
feared a ghost. But Jesus seemed real, not a ghost.
The central issue must be a lifetime’s conviction that Jesus is real, that
Jesus has truly come from the tomb, that the risen Lord is no ghost or
apparition, no deceiving spirit. The crux of our faith rests here. Indeed,
these Apostles experience not a resuscitated body, but Jesus as
resurrected. Jesus is an embodied person, different from the bloodied
corpse taken from the cross, different from the wonder worker with
whom Peter and John and the others had often walked and supped
together. Different, yes, for Jesus appears exalted, and He is not limited
by doors and walls. Yes, a metal bar remains in place across the door;
still Jesus lives and breathes now, here.
He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise
in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I
myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and
bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he
showed them his hands and his feet. (Luke 24:38-39)
Now terror has left the Apostles, and in its place comes joy. Still,
unbelief remains. The risen Lord, standing with these men, has yet to
confirm their faith.
“Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of
broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
A lifetime conviction must inflame whatever they will do or say or
suffer until they at last expire. That was true for the Apostles; it remains
true for you and for me. The Risen Christ has to be with us a lasting
Although certitude about the Risen Christ fastens on the Apostles, they
must also comprehend how Jesus, though despised and humiliated
among people, has exalted status before God. Fresh perception will
come to these Apostles only as Jesus opens their minds to understand the
scriptures (Luke 24:45).
What does Jesus say about Himself in scripture? The suffering of the
Messiah has been described, and the Messiah—say the writings of
Moses, prophets, and psalms—will rise from the dead on the third day.
These same writings manifest that this Messiah will be heralded
everywhere, to all nations; it will start in Jerusalem and advance
throughout the world. (Luke 24:46-47).
What role do these Apostles play? In the first place, the Apostles witness
the world’s great events. The emotions that they now experience, the
facts that they now see—to this they will testify for all their days.
Secondly, they should preach repentance and forgiveness in the name
and by the authority of this Risen Lord.
Jesus appeared to the Apostles on that momentous day. You and I
witness with those Apostles, and we newly experience Jesus among us.