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Are you seeing clearly?

Our post-Easter liturgy is full of stories of surprise. Last Sunday we read about the disciples locked in the upper room and the surprise they received when Jesus appeared in the midst of them.

This week, we have a similar theme. Some of the disciples were gathered together. They were still troubled and mystified by the death of Jesus, and no doubt disappointed. There was also fear, as they had left Jerusalem.

Then came the surprise! Suddenly, Jesus was with them. Like the Doubting Thomas of last week’s gospel story, they could not believe their eyes and thought they were seeing a ghost.

Like Thomas, they asked for evidence. Once again Jesus showed them his wounds and then asked for something to eat. In a similar manner that Jesus asks us to recognise him, in the sharing of a meal, the meal of the Eucharist, it was in the act of eating together that the disciples recognised him.

The wonderful thing about the disciples is that they are so human, so much like ourselves. They so often cannot believe their eyes. They so often cannot see clearly. They so often ask for evidence and then more evidence. Like us, they can be reluctant to believe.

For example, we have been told so often that we are using up the resources of our world, using them more quickly than they can regenerate. However, do we change our habits? In many ways, we keep asking for more evidence or, naively hoping the problem will just go away.

Yet Pope John Paul II did not do that and Pope Benedict XVI has not done it either. They both framed environmental concerns for our reflection, saying long before all the evidence that exists today was available that they are a moral issue.

Our recognition can also be way too late when we realise that we have had our priorities out of whack. We have been distracted by chasing the things that we want at the expense of the worrying about the things that we need.

We have allowed our eyes to be so blinded by desire that we cannot even see what we really need until it is too late.

We can work and work to get money to buy things, when all the time we should have been worrying about our family relationships or the welfare of other people. So often we hear it said that I did not realise until it was too late.

The great Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, said that we should exert much less effort into getting the things that we want and concentrate on getting the things that we need. But this requires unclouded eyes and throwing aside the reluctance to believe.

However, we so often seek our security in the wrong places. We are afraid to go without the things we think are making us safe.

In recognising Jesus in their midst, something which the disciples all seem to have done with some reluctance, the amazing thing is that their fear disappeared.

We gather together, as a community, to celebrate the Eucharist. It is the community that gives us strength and in the community that we meet Jesus. 

It may sometimes be a little frightening, but the story recounted in the gospel today tells us that it can be worthwhile.