I am often amazed at what Hollywood can do with some of the special effects in the movies created these days. While sitting in the theatre, it is easy to feel as if we are transported to a place that doesn’t truly exist while speaking to people that have been created out of someone’s imagination. What is equally amazing is how, after the movie is over, people will stand around and discuss what they just saw and speak about the images as if the people and places were quite real.
During a family gathering at Easter a few years back, some of my family members were having a similar discussion about a movie that had just been released. After listening to the discussion for few moments, one of my aunts interrupted the conversation and asked, “Why is it that so many of you find it so easy to believe what you see in the movies but have such a tough time believing what happened to Jesus during his passion and after his resurrection?”
Of course, she got a few wise remarks and no one really gave her a direct answer to her question, but I remember that the question struck me as if it needed to be answered; it has stuck with me over the years. Every year since that Easter Sunday, this conversation comes back to me, especially during the octave of Easter, as we hear scripture readings each day from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospels, relaying to us those events that occurred after the Resurrection of Our Lord. We hear the detail of the witnesses that first met Jesus: Mary Magdalene, who was seen by soldiers having a conversation with Christ and was told not to fear and to tell the disciples to go to Galilee where he would meet them; the disciples he met on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, who conversed with Him and broke bread with Him before He left their presence; and when Jesus stood in the midst of the apostles and said, “Peace be with you” and showed them the wounds in His hands and feet and asked them for something to eat. These were not comments from someone recounting a show with special effects but rather someone reliving a conversation and sharing details after being an eyewitness to meeting someone very real! I can only imagine what it would have been like actually to have been in His presence and how I would have responded if He had said to me, “Do not be afraid!”
I often wonder how many times I may have encountered Jesus in someone else and not realized it was Him until much later, thinking that the person I was with was “too good to be true” only to later realize that this person may have changed my life – an encounter with Christ?
So, I thank my aunt for asking that random question that Easter Sunday a few years back – or was it really a random question? Perhaps, it was another encounter with Jesus, who opened my eyes to confirm my belief that what I have heard during the Easter Octave was no special effect, but that He is truly risen!
By: Deacon John DiTaranto