Today’s gospel text (Jn.20:19-31) is rather discrete in terms of the apostles’ reaction to Jesus sudden appearance to them on Easter Sunday.
John simply tells us that “The disciples were filled with joy.”
In his telling of the same happening, Luke says that they were “in a state of alarm and fright as they thought they were seeing a ghost.” (Lk.24:37).
As I try to picture the scene and imagine what the apostles must have felt, the words that come to me to describe them are: surprised, astonished, amazed… utterly dumbfounded!
They knew that Jesus had been nailed on a cross (we can suppose that John who was present had given them some of the details…) and a soldier had pierced his side with a lance (Jn.19:26).
He had died, there was no doubt about this.
And now, suddenly, absolutely unexpected, there he is in front of them – ALIVE!
The word ‘surprise’ is hardly strong enough to mention what the apostles experienced at that moment.
Writing the word ‘surprise’, I recall a book published some years ago entitled: God of surprises (Gerard W. Hughes).
It may not be an attribute that is often given to God, but personally I believe it is very appropriate.
Looking at my life, what happened in the distant past and more recently, I can vouch for this truth:
God is indeed a surprising God!
- Surprising in his amazing creativity,
- surprising in his tremendous generosity,
- surprising in his unfailing forgiveness,
- surprising in his unfathomable understanding,
- surprising in his permanent presence… in spite of sometimes having to wait for a welcome!
Have you not noticed this for yourself?…
Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-c-2019/
And a video (in English) is also offered where the second part of the gospel is presented: https://image-i-nations.com/thomas-the-apostle/