Grace: to be glad and rejoice intensely because of the great joy and the glory of Christ our Lord.
Text for Prayer: any of the appearances in the Gospels: Mt. 28, Mk. 16, Lk. 24, Jn. 20–21, or Acts 1:3-11. As with the previous prayer, while you are contemplating the event itself, be also mindful of how Jesus reveals His divinity, and how Jesus consoles the individual(s) in the scene.
Reflection: In the fifth point that St. Ignatius gives for contemplating Jesus’ appearance to His mother, he says to consider the office of consoler that Jesus exercises, and to compare it with how one friend consoles another. When a friend is in trouble, we don’t usually just give the same stock advice and help to them. In each of His appearances, Jesus does not just appear with a generic “Here I am!”, but meets in the individual in a very personal way to give consolation. This is something Ignatius asks us to continue considering in each of Jesus’ appearances.
Mary Magdalene is the first after His mother that Jesus appears to. When she arrives at the tomb, she cannot find the body, mistakes Jesus for a gardener, and asks in a panic what has happened to Jesus’ body. His response to her is simple: to call her by name. Instantly, Mary realizes that it is the Lord standing in front of her, and she is overcome with joy and excitement.
Peter and John hear about this, run to the tomb, see it empty, and realize what has happened. Even thought John’s Gospel says they both understood what happened, it also says that the very same evening the Apostles were locked in the upper room, afraid of retribution. When Jesus passes through the locked door, the first thing He says to the frightened group is “Peace be with you” (Jn. 20:19) and after showing them His wounds to prove that it really is Him, says it again.
When several of Jesus’ followers see His violent death, they become afraid, and make their escape towards Emmaus. Jesus meets them along the way, and walks with them, reassuring them by interpreting Scripture that the shame and horror they witnessed in Jerusalem did not contradict their faith or God’s covenant, but was its necessary fulfillment. He does not force Himself on them, but allows them to invite Him to stay, and breaks bread with them. Gradually, they come to see that it was Jesus who was with them the whole time.
Even though the other Apostles and several disciples have seen Jesus risen, Thomas refuses to believe. People simply do not rise from the dead. Even with the assurance of people he trusts, Thomas says that “Unless I can see the holes that the nails made in His hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand in His side, I refuse to believe” (Jn. 20:25). Eight days later Jesus comes, again giving His peace. The first words He says to Thomas are words to help him believe: “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving anymore but believe” (Jn. 20:27).
All the while nothing has been said by Jesus or Peter about the white elephant in the room: Peter’s total denial of Jesus outside Annas’ house. When Jesus next appears to the Apostles on the shores of Lake Geneseret He speaks to Peter privately. The way He talks to Peter and resolves the issue shows a personal concern for Peter and what he had done, and also a desire to strengthen and console Peter for what lay ahead, including his death.
Jesus does not stop with just Peter. For the next forty days, He stays with the Apostles, preparing them for what was to come by speaking “about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). On Mount Tabor Jesus gives the Apostles the universal mission each of us heard in the Call of the King, sending them to every nation to make believers out of all people. He reassures them that He will always remain with them, even though He is ascending to rejoin the Father, telling them that “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt. 28:20). True to form, the reassurance and consolation that Jesus gives to the Apostles is not a distant and impersonal declaration that all shall be well, but the promise that He will walk with each of them as their companion and guide in all the endeavors they undertake in love for Him.
Questions: How does Jesus give consolation to each individual? How does His Divinity show itself at each time? How does Jesus give you consolation in your daily life? How do you react when He does?