What a mess we would be in were it not for the forgiveness of Jesus. What a mess the disciples
would have been in after Easter if Jesus did not forgive them for abandoning him during his
Passion. On Easter Sunday evening, Jesus appears to two disciples who meet him on the road to Emmaus and recognize him only after he has broken bread with them. These two return to Jerusalem to tell the others. After they have shared their account of seeing Jesus, he now appears to the entire group gathered together.
Imagine the sense of shame the disciples must now feel for having abandoned Jesus during his Passion. We too feel a sense of shame when we abandon Jesus when we sin. That is really what happens when we sin; we abandon Jesus. We choose something else above Jesus. We put Jesus in second place. Sin is always abandoning Jesus for something or someone else. So it is good when we are sensitive enough to recognize that we have abandoned Jesus and we feel a sense of shame and guilt. I say it is good because when we have a sense of shame or guilt we can turn to Jesus for healing. If we did not have a sense of shame or guilt we would remain in our sorry state of having abandoned Jesus.
But Jesus does not want us to remain in shame or guilt. He did not want his disciples to remain
in shame or guilt and so his first words to them as we hear in our Gospel were, “Peace be with
you.” (Luke 24:35) His meeting with his disciples is really one in which he forgives them for
having abandoned him. He comes to them again as the same familiar person and so he shows
them the wounds in his hands and feet (Luke 24:39). Naturally they would have wondered
about the wounds.
He had eaten many meals with them and now once again he eats a meal with them -- whatever piece of fish they had was good enough for him (Luke 24:41-43). This gentle meeting did so much to ease the tension and calm nerves. Emotions were beginning to return to normal again. “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?” he asks to reassure them that everything is okay (Luke 24:38). Jesus is accepting his disciples as his disciples again and not chastising them for having abandoned him.
After we sin Jesus wants us to return to him quickly also.
Now that the disciples have received the forgiveness of Jesus he gives them a mission to preach his forgiveness to others. When we sin Jesus does not want us to remain in shame or guilt. He wants to heal the broken relationship, broken by our abandoning him in sin. Therefore after sin we always want to return to Jesus in repentance and sorrow. He says to us, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:35) From his wounds we receive forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation as the priest in the name of God absolves us of our sins. Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations…(Luke 24:46-47)
--Deacon Joseph Pasquella