3rd Easter: Jesus is Real!
Every year I teach a religion class or two at Guardian Angels School where I am also pastor. Towards the end of the school year, I have a question box session where I answer whatever questions the students have previously prepared. OK, so that means that a lot of them are about sex, but that is acceptable as long as the adolescents are sincerely searching for answers.
One questions I often get, though, is not about sex, it is about Twilight. If you are not aware of what Twilight is, it’s a series of books and an accompanying chick flicks of the “young girl loves vampire” genre. That’s one that Shakespeare never dabbed in. Back to the question. Teens will often ask what the Church’s position was on Twilight. Well, an official position was never published. What the Church expects is that the reader is able to distinguish between fiction and reality. I tell the 8th graders, “If you can’t separate fact from fiction, you shouldn’t read the books.”
Vampires are not real. Werewolves are not real. Zombies are not real.
But Jesus is real.
And the Risen Lord Jesus is not a ghost. He is the Son of God become man, who died for us, but then rose from the dead. When the disciples saw Jesus, they did not see a ghost. To be sure they realized this and that those who came after them realized this, we have today’s Gospel reading. Jesus said, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is me. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." He then went on to eat something right in front of them.
Sometimes people will ask me if it is OK to mess around with a ouija board, or visit a fortune teller like Madame-Take-Your-Money, or even dabble in the occult. All that is wrong. Certainly, most of it is a scam, but what if there was a slight percentage of it that is not a scam? What if there was a spiritual power that does not come from God? There is. It is the power of the devil, the evil one. If a spiritual power does not come from God, then why would anyone chance messing around with the devil?
The forces of evil suffered a devastating loss when Jesus conquered hate with His sacrificial love on the cross. But the forces of evil are not totally defeated. They are still trying to make inroads in our world and in our lives. They will never defeat the Lord, and they will never defeat us as long as we are united to the Lord.
Many people who lived at the time of the Lord had given up on having any sort of spiritual life. The devil had defeated them. Many people who live in our time have given up on life. They can’t see a reason for living. They can’t see anything positive in life. The devil is defeating them. But this no longer is the devil’s world. It is Jesus’ world. People need to know that there is truth, and beauty and meaning in life. People need to know that Jesus is present for them also, not as a ghost, but as the real Risen Lord wanting to share His Life with them. That is why the message of the Lord is called the Gospel. The word Gospel means Good News. People need to know the Good News about the Lord: life is beautiful when lived with the Lord.
How can people come to know this, to know the Good News? Through us. Today’s reading concludes with Jesus telling the disciples and us, “You are witnesses,” witnesses of the Lord’s wonders and love and beauty and reality.
Much of the world suffers from Twilight. Many people have given up on reality and seek spiritual fables and even occult powers to free them from their disillusionment with life. Of course, they are just digging a deeper hole of frustration for themselves. These people need something. They need Someone. They need Jesus. They need us to bring Jesus to them. We are Christians. We are Catholic. We are called to be witnesses to the Gospel. We are called to proclaim to the world the Good News: Jesus is real!