April 20, 2017
"The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses" (Acts 3:15).
Brothers and sisters,
I've been spending some time with the works of Luigi Giussani, who captures the essence of the apostles' encounter with Jesus in a profound way: To understand their encounter, and to test its validity, it is critical to begin with the object whose validity is being tested--and here that object is Jesus, who is a person. The "validity" of a person we can test only in encounter; only by experience, by sharing in experience, by sharing life and being changed by this sharing.
Why is it that Peter and Jesus' closest friends stayed with him, even after the controversial discourse on the Eucharist, on eating his very body and drinking his blood? Why is it that this friendship with Jesus poured so seamlessly into their evangelization and ministry--their witness, to the Jews and Gentiles both, across the earth, at risk of being persecuted, jailed, stoned?
It has everything to do with the man. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine coming upon this man who bears within himself so effortlessly all of Reality? Who is the earth's Maker, and yet walks within its confines, stretching out his arms to balance himself on the boat, shielding his eyes beneath the sun so that he can gaze at those near him?
These men encountered Jesus and they knew: Here is a Presence unlike all presences. It was not mere head-knowledge, though; far more importantly, their beings changed with each encounter, and they understood something about their own existence, their own identity, they hadn't understood before. And again, and again, and again, with every passing moment, they encountered more and experienced more and trusted more until they were consumed by his truth and by the way in which his truth aligned them more intimately with him, with Reality, with his way of walking within Reality...
Each encounter was another Fact, that follows the most important Fact: God enters history. He enters history, and the history you and I are living now is a continuation of that which the apostles witnessed 2000 years ago. So we must choose: Do we want to encounter this man, experience this man, know this man? Do we want to have everything upended by him, our Resurrection and our Life, in a way that mimics theirs, living under the power of the Spirit in pure witness to this man?
A prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Resurrection and the Life! You are the Presence who contains all things, and the Presence you bore in flesh you now bear in spirit and in truth. Come, then, and let us encounter you. Call us by name, and draw us closer to you, to your heart, to your face, that we may hear your voice. Amen.