Bible Reflection (31 March 2024)

Easter Sunday Year B

Acts 10:34,37-43
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
John 20:1-9

With new spiritual sight, let us gaze upon the our resurrected Lord.

My brothers and sisters, we have entered the Easter season. Easter is a season of newness, a season of removing the decaying and the old, and replacing it with what is good and new. But the question is, do I know what is decaying and old in my life? If I have been reflecting sincerely over the season of Lent, I would know. If I have not, then chances are, I am living in denial.

In this week’s Gospel, we read that even Mary Magdalene, as someone with great faith, was initially living in denial of the resurrection. She came to the tomb, could not find Jesus’ body, and concluded, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (verse 2) Many of the disciples had similar challenges, for example St Thomas (Jn 20:24-29). In this week’s Gospel, we read that St John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, went to the empty tomb, and “he saw and believed” (verse 8). Sometimes, like St John and St Thomas, we need to see to believe. For we are weak in our faith. This is one of the reasons why the Eastern Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil is so important in our faith life. The Church invites us to come, see, and believe. But we should not just come to observe the rituals blindly. If so, we would have gained nothing from the Triduum. We must see it with our spiritual sight. We are asked to “walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7)

Hence we ask, how is my spiritual sight? In the First Reading, we read how St Peter preached fearlessly and with authority. This contrasts with the Peter who denied Jesus three times in the Sanhedrin courtyard. Why was Peter able to do that? Peter was able to grow because God was patient with him. And after the event of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), Peter has begun to gain spiritual sight. He began to understand he is a child of God, loved and forgiven by God! In the First Reading, we hear him proclaimed, “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (verse 42-43) My brothers and sisters, how about us? Alas, many of us are spiritually blind. For many of us live in denial of our sins, our wrongdoings and our fallen nature. Why? Because like the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, we are in fear. And just like Peter in the Sanhedrin courtyard, we live in fear that others might know our weaknesses and our flaws; that others might look down upon us; that others might expose us. So, we live in denial of our identity, just like Peter at Sanhedrin, who denied Jesus. In denying Jesus, Peter was denying his very identity. Like Peter, we too need to learn that we are children of God, loved and forgiven by Him.

The truth is, if I continue to live in denial, I do not just rob myself of happiness. My example may cause my loved ones – those who look up to me – to follow my example. In addition, my facade may create a false impression of bliss that creates a kind of “peer pressure” to others. By my facade, others might feel compelled to similarly portray a false image, to live in denial. This is especially true among the young people of today, who are adversely affected by the false impression of bliss that their friends portray on social media. So, in more ways than one, I am not just robbing myself of joy, but also denying joy from those around me. This is just like what yeast does to a batch of dough – it spreads. In Biblical language, yeast is used to symbolise sins. Jesus said, “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod” (Mk 8:15). Or as St Paul wrote in the Second Reading this week, “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?” (verse 6) Hence, because of the cascading nature of its ill-effects, we are called to “Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch” (verse 7) The question is, am I prepared to?

My dear friends, Easter is a season of rebirth. Let us deny no more! This Easter Season, let us open our spiritual eyes and see our resurrected Lord. Let us see how He has loved and forgiven us. We have nothing to be ashamed of. Like the blind man on the roadside, let us say to Jesus, “Lord, let me see again.” (Lk 18:41) This Easter, let us gaze upon our resurrected Lord and hear Him proclaims “Ephphatha!” (Mk 7:34), which means “Be Open!” Amen.