One of my Lenten resolutions this year was to spend more time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. At the Fourth Week of Lent, I looked back and judged myself as not really meeting up with my resolution. On the Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent, for some reason, I got off the Navy Base earlier than usual. When I got home to the rectory, I thought it was an excellent opportunity to make up for the times I did not stay long enough with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I was just about “sneaking” into the chapel in the rectory when a parishioner greeted me.

I thought it would just be a greeting, after which I would go into the chapel, but I was wrong. It began with a greeting, and then from there, the parishioner started to share stories of her life, her joys, worries, griefs, pains, faith, career, family, etc. I was listening and occasionally interjecting. At some points, I wondered, “Am I supposed to be here? I really wanted to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. How can I find my way out of this conversation?” But the conversation continued until, at a point, she said, “Father, I cannot believe that I have talked to you for more than an hour. I was supposed to have left here half an hour ago.” She added, “I am truly grateful for your time. Before you came in, I was experiencing a headache. I was thinking of the medication to take when I get home, but after talking to you, the headache has disappeared; I no longer need the medication.”

In response, I thanked her for her kind words. I became vulnerable by saying, “This was not how I had planned to spend my afternoon. I planned to sneak into the chapel and spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” She said, “Hmmm, Father, you know what: Jesus comes to us in various ways, sometimes, in ways we least expect.”

I then went into the chapel and continued to reflect on what she said, “Jesus comes to us in various ways; sometimes, in ways we least expect.” Towards the end of my time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I prayed like this: “Jesus, please, help me recognize you even outside the Blessed Sacrament. Help me to remember that you are not only in the Blessed Sacrament.”

My Dearly Beloved in Christ, today is the Second Sunday of Easter. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, at a point said, “With great power, the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” So, the apostles were witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Who is a witness? A witness is someone who experiences an event and reports what they have experienced. So there are two aspects to witnessing: 1) to experience, and 2) to report the experience. Reporting this experience can be in words, in silence, in actions, and inactions. The apostles witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, and they reported this experience in their words, silence, actions, and inactions. The Greek word for witness is martus. The English word martyr comes from martus. A martyr is someone ready to stand for what they believe, even to the point of shedding their blood.

The first reading said, “With great power, the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” There are two aspects to their bearing witness to the resurrection: 1) In the title by which they address Jesus. Today, we talk of the Lord Jesus and we do not even think much of it. But it was not that easy as at the time that the apostles addressed Jesus as Lord. At that time, the Roman Emperor was the Lord, and no one could compete with him; no one else could bear the title of Lord. Remember, the Emperor was able to prove that through his governor, Pontius Pilate by passing a judgment on Jesus, and approving the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. And Jesus died; no one could do anything about it. Many even believed that not even God could do anything. So, the Emperor had the final say on Good Friday.

Eventually, on Easter Sunday, God vindicated Jesus through the event of The Empty Tomb. This experience of The Empty Tomb proved to the apostles that the Emperor was not The Lord. It became clear that the one who came out of the tomb was the real Lord. So, they shifted the title from the Emperor to the Risen Jesus Christ. They began to address Jesus Christ as the Lord without fear of its consequences. So, with great power, they began to address the Risen One as the Lord Jesus.

Apart from the title, they also bore witness to the resurrection through their way of life. The beginning of today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that the early Christians shared all they had; they ensured that no one was in need. Those with extra shared with those in need. They attended to one another’s needs. That was their expression of their belief in the resurrection. Remember, Jesus had shared with them that at the end, on the last day, the judgment will be based on how they treated one another: “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat; when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink … for whatsoever you do to the least of my people, you do unto me.” So, as Christians, we are one body in Christ.

What the early Christians experienced in the resurrection made it clear that they could no longer locate Jesus in only one place. After the resurrection, Jesus is now in all of them. So, whatever they do for or to the other person is done for or to the Risen Lord Jesus. So, by taking care of the needs of others, they were bearing witness to the resurrection of Christ.

As Christians, we are the Alleluia People, the people of the resurrection. But it is not enough to claim to be a people of the resurrection if it does not show in how we live our lives. If we truly believe that Jesus is risen and is in everyone we relate with, then, it should show in the attention we give to one another.   

Yes, I was on my way to the Blessed Sacrament; I really wanted to spend time with Jesus. I came across a parishioner. As soon as the conversation went beyond the greeting, it seemed I was taking away from Jesus’ time. But my parishioner taught me a great lesson. She said, “Father, Jesus comes to us in various ways, sometimes, in ways we least expect.” From her, I learned that the time I spent with her was also a time with Jesus, for Jesus wanted me to listen to him through the parishioner, and Jesus wanted to teach me a lesson through the parishioner. Of what use is my looking at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament if I do not look like Jesus when I attend to my parishioner? That is why at the end of Mass, the priest or the deacon dismisses us, saying, “Go and announce the gospel of the Lord.” For what use is our eating the Body of Christ and drinking the Blood of Christ to become one body if we leave the Church and begin to discriminate and segregate? My dearly beloved in Christ, here are two things to consider on this Second Sunday of Easter: 1) Who is your Lord? / What is your Lord? 2) If Jesus is to grade you right now based on how you treated the last person you encountered before you began to listen to me, what will be your grade?

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

View all posts

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *