2nd Sunday of Easter. April 28, 2019
Acts 5:12-16, Rev 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19, Jn 20:19-31
Passionate about Jesus, The Ultimate Hero
Whether we are interested in watching it or not, we cannot help but notice that the movie, Avengers: Endgame, is showing now in theaters around the world. It is also raking in millions of dollars and generating lots of reviews on social media.
It is obvious that we truly love our comic super-heroes, characters who are victorious in their struggle with evil. We are passionate about them and we gladly want to identify with them, even if all we can do is to dress like them and pretend we are like them. We speak of their victories with glee and we wait in expectant hope for the new episodes and the eventual triumph of our super-heroes over their evil enemies.
This is all fine and good as innocent entertainment. But we should ask ourselves if we can really know and enter into relationship with these super-heroes. I mean, can we really know Iron Man or Captain Marvel personally? Can we share in their victory over evil and enjoy their reward? Not at all. These are only exciting stories of fictional characters in imaginary battles with vague evil forces. But we do not mind this fact as we remain passionate about our super-heroes.
But how passionate are we about the risen Christ, the ultimate hero of all time and all people? Are we even aware of why Jesus Christ remains our ultimate hero who alone deserves all the passion of our hearts? Let us consider four good reasons why Jesus Christ is the ultimate hero and the only one who deserves our passionate love and discipleship.
Firstly, because of the uniqueness of His victory over the formidable foes of death and the powers of darkness. By His rising from the grave, Jesus Christ has achieved what no human being has ever had the nerve or ability to attempt. He conquered for us in a battle in which we do not have a single chance on our own apart from Him, “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. “(Eph 6:12)
Secondly, the unique manner of His victory puts Him in a completely unique class of His own among all heroes. Human heroes, and by extension our fictional comic heroes, try to avoid death at all cost. Death would be the ultimate defeat for them. Who among us can be forever passionate about a dead hero, a hero who can only be merely remembered?
But Jesus attained this victory over death by experiencing suffering and death in His own human nature. The risen Christ emphasized this unique victory over death through His own death when He triumphantly introduced Himself to awe-struck St. John in the Book of Revelation, “Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last, the One who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.” This means that by His death and resurrection, He has gained power over death and forces of evil.
Thirdly, He fought and died for us while we were His foes. He did not wait for us to become worthy of His heroic self-sacrifice, “While we were sinners, Christ died for us.”(Rom 5:8) He fought, was wounded, and died for us so that we become the prime beneficiaries of His triumph, “For Christ also died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.”(1Pet 3:18)
Fourthly, through His wounds, the risen Christ invites us to know Him now, share in His victory, and enjoy His rewards from His conquest over death. Jesus is the only hero that we can indeed know intimately now and participate in His own life and heavenly rewards. Because “Christ, once raised from the dead, will never die again and death has no more power over Him,” we too can live a life of victory over sin in which we “consider ourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.”(Rom 6:9,11)
We see this in today’s Gospel where the risen Christ clearly shows His wounds to His unfaithful disciples, not to mock them or make them feel guilty for their infidelity, but to invite them, despite their past failures, to know Him better and share in what He has gained by His death and resurrection. It is because of these His wounds for us that we have access to that abiding peace that comes from being reconciled with God, “Peace be with you.” Through His wounds, we can now become intimate with Him by our sharing in His Spirit-life, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Through His wounds, we can also receive and give forgiveness to others individually and sacramentally in the Church’s Sacrament of Reconciliation, “Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sin you retain are retained.” Through His wounds, we also have access to that living faith that alone “conquers the world.”(1Jn 5:4) The testimony of the early Church could not bring the unbelieving St. Thomas to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. It was only when Jesus graciously appeared again and showed him His own sacred wounds that the unbelieving disciple exclaimed in faith, “My Lord and my God.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we venerate today the image of the risen Christ on this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us look at Jesus anew as our Ultimate Hero. Let us gaze closely on those wounds and reflect on His own passionate love for us and how He pursues us to give us a share in His own victory and to bring us to enjoy His own rewards. But are we passionate enough to know Him better, identify with Him, and make His victories and rewards our own?
Don’t we need the abiding inner peace of Christ today in our world riddled by senseless violence against each other? Aren’t we in great need of a renewed relationship with Him as we feel ourselves becoming more and more estranged and isolated even in our technologically advanced world? Aren’t we in desperate need of forgiveness ourselves and to forgive others who have hurt us? Surely we are in need of a strong and lively faith at times like this when many are losing their Christian faith and the Church is plagued by scandals. We need a truly vibrant faith if we are going to overcome the aggressive secular mentality of our world today. These are the precious rewards that Christ, the Ultimate Hero, has won for us by His death and resurrection and which we have access to only through His sacred wounds borne for us on the cross.
Our Eucharist today is another living contact with the Ultimate Hero who has won the greatest victory for us and He is constantly inviting us through His sacred wounds to know and love Him with intensity now no matter our sins and struggles in life. We must think deeply today and choose our heroes carefully by faith because our heroes will ultimately determine our victories and rewards! If we choose well and remain faithful to our choice, we will become truly passionate for Jesus as our Ultimate Hero and only then can we share deeply in His victory over death and the forces of darkness and fully enjoy His precious rewards in this life and in the life to come.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!