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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

237. Amazing Peace (Luke 24:36-48)

April 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Meditations, The Better Part

“He submitted to death and endured it of his own free will, in order to destroy death against death’s will.”
St. Ephraem

Luke 24:36-48: They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes. Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’

Christ the Lord In describing this appearance to his disciples, St. Luke emphasizes the reality of Christ’s resurrected body. They were not seeing a ghost; it was not a mass hallucination; it was far too shocking to be wishful thinking – Jesus makes all of this abundantly clear by his gestures and actions. As the reality of his complete, physical, personal presence sinks in, the disciples are overcome with joy and amazement. Their Lord had turned the worst of defeats into a definitive victory; he had conquered injustice, violence, hatred, rejection, and death itself by taking them all upon himself and then dissolving them in the Resurrection. If such an unparalleled event had failed to elicit joy and amazement on behalf of those who love him and put his trust in him, something would have been very wrong.

The level of our spiritual joy and amazement when we contemplate these same realities can in turn give us an inkling of the level of our love and trust. We cheer with gusto when our favorite team wins the championship; how enthusiastically do our hearts cheer at the Resurrection of our Lord, the pledge of our own resurrection?

Christ the Teacher Christ’s glorified body suffers none of the limitations of our natural body, but it still bears the marks of his sacrifice on the cross. He shows his wounds to the disciples to prove to Luke 24:36-48them that it really is he. To this day, as he reigns in heaven, he still bears those wounds; he will bear them throughout all eternity. They are God’s remarkable answer to the perennial question of human suffering: he doesn’t explain the mystery with a syllogism or a philosophical discourse; he explains it by taking it upon himself and bathing it in everlasting glory. If we unite our sufferings to those of Christ, if we attach our crosses to his, then all of our wounds will be found in his, and they all will share in his eternal splendor. The hardship of following Christ – the cross – is only half the story; the joy and glory of following Christ – the Resurrection – is the other half. If we accept the one, it’s only because we believe firmly in the other.

Christ the Friend Jesus: Do you remember what I said most often after my resurrection? “Peace be with you.” Peace. Peace is my antidote to modern man’s most endemic diseases: stress, depression, and anxiety – and I know you have been affected by those diseases. If you trust in me, I will give you all the peace you need: peace for your mind, because when you look at my wounds that are now sharing my everlasting life, you can know for certain that my unbounded forgiveness lasts forever; peace for your heart, because when you see those nail marks and my pierced side, you know for certain that I love you with an undying, unconditional, personal, determined love – and that too will never change; peace for your soul, because I who am your King reign now and always, and I have given you a task worthy of the restlessness that stirs your will. You are to be my witness, both among those close at hand in your own Jerusalem, and to all peoples everywhere through your surrender to my will, your prayers, your example, and your apostolic activity. I want to give you my peace. Trust me, and you will be able to accept it.

Christ in My Life I am like your disciples, Lord: reluctant to believe. I see the bad side, the hard side, the problems. These come easily to mind. But at times it seems almost impossible for me to smile, to laugh, to rejoice in the victory that I know you have shared with me. Teach me, Lord. Train me. Open my eyes. Fill me with your light. With the joy of your heart, expand my heart…

You are in heaven right now, body and soul. And you are preparing a place for me there. You want me to come and spend eternity in the adventure of your friendship. You will resurrect my body too and will give me a share in your glory. Help me to taste the joy and amazement that your goodness and power should stir up in my mind. Blessed be your name in all the earth…

Not only do I want to experience your peace, the peace that goes deeper than emotions and passing moods, but I want to be a channel of your peace. Fill me with your abundant fullness of life, Lord; fill me so much that I overflow with it, spreading it to everyone I meet, work, and live with. With the Kingdom of your heart, reign in my heart…

 

PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better Part. To learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.

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Art for this post on Luke 24:36-48: Cover of The Better Part used with permission. Christ's Appearance to the Apostles, Andrey Mironov, 2013 own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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