By REV ANGELA PALACIOUS
In the post-resurrection stories, people meet Jesus in different circumstances but the response is always the same. There is surprise and joy, mixed with a little fear at first. They experience living proof that He is alive.
In John 2:1-19 (NIV), some of the disciples are out fishing, when a man calls to them from the shore to tell them where to let down their nets, as they have caught nothing all night. The net-breaking haul is all the proof they need. Peter swims to shore, while the others come in the boat. This is his third appearance to them, and this time he has prepared the meal so that they can have breakfast together: Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Peter has a personal encounter in which he is questioned three times about his love for the Lord. It has been considered by many theologians to be the reversal of his three-time denial during the Lord’s trial. He is given the opportunity to redeem himself, while being directed to engage in the full-time ministry of feeding the flock: When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
In Acts 9:1-6 NIV, we read of the Apostle Paul’s first encounter with Jesus while on the road to Damascus. His name is still Saul, at this point, and he is actively persecuting Christians. His encounter takes the form of confrontation, challenge, blinding and a three-day period of fasting and prayer. He becomes a changed man with his zeal for God now enlisted in the making of disciples to follow Jesus, the son of God! As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus, only recognised Jesus after he had broken the bread at the table. Before then, they had walked and talked with him for seven miles, mesmerised by his biblical explanations, but unaware of who was in their midst: Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:13-17 NIV).
During these past two weeks, I have had several personal encounters with the Lord in some very diverse settings. In Inagua, where I went to do the Holy Week services, there were high points in the liturgy when the youth dramatised the passion, sang solos, did a very touching liturgical dance, along with the washing of the feet, lighting of the new fire, celebrating the first Mass of Easter. Meals with family and friends, visits to the shut-ins, a confirmation class to teach on the sacraments and hear confessions made it a wonderful time of worship and fellowship.
In San Diego, I attended a workshop for speakers and writers which offered powerful presentations, small group activities, and strong encouragement to share our stories. It was an opportunity to celebrate gifts, to be healed and refreshed, to pray with greater purpose and to network in order to offer ongoing support.
This weekend brought me sober moments to reflect on human suffering and triumph at the excellent play titled “Untitled” at the Dundas. Artist Chan Pratt’s work is on display at the National Art Gallery featuring lovely Bahamian scenes painted with vibrant colours and pastels. There were the funerals of several major contributors to Bahamian history and society, reminding us to give our all back to God and our people while we have time. When we add these occasions for worship to our regular Sunday services, we realise that God is very present with us at all times, but especially when we allow our eyes to recognise the God in our midst.
The more we prepare ourselves to encounter the risen Christ, the more we will encounter God’s love and grace in the ordinary and the extraordinary things of life. May your encounters with Jesus today and everyday bring you peace and joy.