Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-216-17,22-23; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9)
Seeing Ourselves as Jesus Sees Us
Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb (John 20:3).
On this great feast of the Resurrection, let’s take a look at the first man to walk into the empty tomb. Peter must have come there with many different feelings swirling in his heart—feelings ranging from hope that Jesus was alive again to guilt at having denied him.
Seeing those linens folded neatly, Peter probably recalled his own actions that brought Jesus to such a horrible end. “First I bragged about my undying loyalty to him, and then I betrayed him. If he really has been raised up, I have to face him. Jesus knows that I am a coward and a traitor. Will he even take me back?”
But while Peter’s view was so negative, Jesus had a different approach. He looked inside Peter’s heart and saw the love as well as the weakness. He knew that Peter had denied him only out of fear.
Imagine the first conversation between Peter and the risen Lord. “Jesus, why do you put up with me? I failed you!” “Peter, that’s all in the past. I know your heart, and I know your love. The Spirit is coming, and he will strengthen you beyond what you can imagine. So be at peace. I want you to feed my sheep.”
Surely we all have more than a little bit of Peter in us! Like him, we all have made boastful statements about our lives or about our faith at one time or another. And we all have been embarrassed when reality confronted these claims.
So what should we do this Easter? First, let’s give up all of our negative views of ourselves. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Second, let’s listen to Jesus as he tells us that he knows how much we love him. Let’s allow these words to move us out into the world to feed his sheep. May we all have a blessed Easter.
“All praise to you, Lord Jesus! You have conquered sin and death. You have lifted me up to be with you forever!”
Questions for Reflection
- On Easter Sunday, after 40 days of reflection on the passion and death of Jesus Christ, we now celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. But more than that, we celebrate our own resurrection to new life in Jesus, through our faith and our Baptism. In what way have you experienced the new life that Jesus came to give you through his death and resurrection?
- In the first reading from Acts, Peter says that, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). Do you believe that through faith and Baptism, you also have been anointed with the Holy Spirit and power? Why or why not? If you do believe this, what keeps you from doing the same kinds of works as Jesus did? Also, what keeps you from telling others that “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).
- The responsorial psalm also speaks of the power of the Lord, “The right hand of the Lord has struck with power; the right hand of the Lord is exalted” (Psalm 118:16). The Psalm goes on to say, “I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord” (118:17). Do you believe the Lord has given you the power to declare the works of the Lord to others? Why or why not? Share a time when sharing the Gospel with someone had a positive impact on their life?
- In the second reading from Colossians, we hear this startling proclamation, “you were raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1). What do you think these words mean? What about the following words, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory” (3:3-4). How can you allow the truth of these words to impact how you live out your day, especially when faced with temptations or difficult circumstances?
- The Gospel reading says that John the apostle “believed” when he saw the burial clothes, even though he “did not yet understand the Scriptures that he had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9). Why do you think John was able to believe without any real understanding of the resurrection of Christ? How would you describe your own belief in the resurrection of Christ? How does your “belief” make a difference in your every day life? How much should it?
- The meditation takes a close look at Peter after the resurrection, and contrasts his own negative view of himself (because of his betrayal of Jesus) with the way that Jesus’ saw him. The meditation says that Jesus “looked inside Peter’s heart and saw the love as well as the weakness.” Do you believe that when Jesus looks at you he sees your love for him, in spite of your weaknesses and sin? Why or why not?
- Take some time now and pray for a greater sense of what it means to be “raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1), and the grace to see ourselves as Jesus sees us. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)