Last week I spoke of asking God for keys to healing various physical afflictions. I've been doing this for some time because I know, from the Scriptures, that God ordinarily wants to heal people. The record shows that Jesus spent a lot of his time in ministry healing people. Jesus, being God, could heal people instantaneously. Most of the healings I've seen or heard about took time and persistence in prayer.
Jesus told a story about being persistent in prayer. A widow had a case before a corrupt judge. With no means to bribe the judge, her case was delayed and delayed. But she harangued and harassed him. She wore him down. She got her justice. Jesus added, "Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly (Luke 18:7-8).
The moral of the story is this: if a corrupt judge can eventually give justice, how much more will a loving God give his children what they need.
For reflection: Have I been persistent with God in prayer? If I don't have an answer yet, why have I stopped asking?
Let us pray. In your court, Lord, I ask for justice, I ask for healing, I ask for provision. I ask for wisdom and the keys to getting things done. I need (a job, a home, more business, peace, healing . . . ).
He's not a shape shifter either. When Jesus appears in different guises in his post-Resurrection appearances, he does not appear as a dog or an owl or a newt. He appears as a person. He is able to fix breakfast and walk side-by-side with others. He is not a ghost. Thomas is able to touch Jesus' wounds. Jesus eats fish. He is not a vampire who feeds on other people; he feeds them. He is not a zombie walking around in a psychotic state; he has a will of his own. His body was not stolen by the Jews or the Romans. We don't have a mass hallucination that has continued in belief until today.
What do we have? Infinitely creative God chose to take on human life and exist as we do. He ate and drank, partied and mourned, worked and rested. He was elated then deflated. He was praised then betrayed. Why does it matter? Belief in Jesus Christ depends on his resurrection from the dead. As St. Paul says (1 Corinthians 15:14-17), "If Christ has not been raised . . . we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. . . . And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile."
Traditionally we say that Christ appeared to people for 40 days after his resurrection. A week from now it will be 40 days. That's why we have spent so long looking at the resurrection appearances - so that we could experience the length of time that he continued to appear in person to people. We are not quite finished yet. We have a few appearances remaining. Stay tuned.
For reflection: Books, TV and movies portray the various powers that superheroes possess. What supernatural powers do I need to be a superhero for God? What villains are after me? How can I overcome them?
Let us pray. Father, All-Powerful, all true power comes from you. Thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for wisdom and understanding, knowledge and faith, healing and miracles. Thank you for being with us always.
Like a commercial in the midst of your favorite TV show, today we come to a pause in John's stories of the resurrected Christ. Thomas has seen and touched and believed. In response Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
Here John inserts his commentary: "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:30-31).
John wrote his account of Jesus' life so that we, who have not seen Jesus, who have not witnessed his miracles, who have not touched his wounds, might believe, and in believing gain eternal life.
For reflection: Jesus said to Thomas, "Stop doubting and believe." What is my answer? Knowing what befell Jesus and what would happen to his disciples because of this belief, where do I stand?
With Thomas, let us pray: My Lord and my God!
When Jesus appeared to the disciples, showed them his wounds, and ate fish as proof that he was alive, somehow Thomas was not with them. Despite the eyewitness accounts of the others, Thomas was not convinced that Jesus had risen. "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it," Thomas exclaimed (John 20:25).
Fast forward a week. All of the disciples had locked themselves into the same house as before, but this time Thomas is present. Jesus once again materializes before them and says, "Peace be with you!" Jesus knows what Thomas has said about touching him, so he urges Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
For reflection: Watch this video from tale2tell (under 7 minutes)
Two people are walking down the road. They are talking about the trial and death of Jesus and his reported resurrection from the dead. What an astounding thing! How could this be true? Should we believe those women? Has Jesus turned into a ghost?
A stranger joins them. "What are you talking about?" he asks. They proceed to tell him about Jesus, who was a prophet, who was killed like all the other prophets, but who now is supposed to be alive. Surely he heard about this. The news is all over Jerusalem.
The stranger affirms that yes, he did hear about the trial and execution. Then he goes on to explain to them, Jesus' disciples, the prophecies from Moses onward that referred to Jesus and the events that have transpired.
In all this time, walking together, discussing and arguing, the two disciples did not recognize Jesus. Why not? In Mark 16:12, it says Jesus appeared in a different form. In Luke 24:16 it says, "they were kept from recognizing him."
For reflection: Jesus, when have you been with me and I have not recognized you?
Let us pray. Jesus, because of your love you reach out to me every day. Help me to see you in all the ways you approach me.
"Do not be afraid." We hear that command several times in the resurrection and post-resurrection accounts. In Matthew's telling of the story of Jesus' resurrection(chapter 28), the angel says it to the women at the tomb. Jesus says it to the women again when he appears to them as they are on their way to tell the other disciples.
It must be a fearsome thing to have an angel appear and speak to you and then, shortly after, Jesus appear (poof!) right in front of you when you know he died just a few days ago.
Contrary to how the "undead" are portrayed on TV and in movies today, I don't think Jesus looked like a zombie or a vampire. The women recognized Jesus immediately, fell at his feet and worshiped him (verse 9). Perhaps they were afraid at these appearances, but perhaps they were afraid because of the Roman and Jewish authorities and what this might mean for Jesus' little band of followers.
For reflection: Am I afraid to believe Jesus rose from the dead? Am I afraid of what believing in Jesus might mean in my life? Am I afraid to face Jesus?
Let us pray. Jesus, risen Lord, I too am afraid. I am afraid . . . .
In the resurrection and post-resurrection accounts it was important to name names because those were the people giving eyewitness testimony that Jesus had indeed risen and was alive. That someone who was publicly executed was now alive and visiting people was an incredible thing to try to believe. Even the disciples did not immediately believe Mary Magdalene's report that Jesus was alive. As Mark says, "She went and told those who had been mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it" (Mark 16:10-11). Luke (who has other women going to the tomb with Mary Magdalene) says, "They did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense" (Lk 24:11).
There are two things in Christianity that are really hard to believe: Jesus is God and Jesus rose from the dead. The people who were there at the time initially did not believe either. Only after they saw for themselves did they come to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
For reflection: Do I believe that Jesus is God and he rose from the dead? If so, why? If not, why not?
Let us pray. Jesus, reveal yourself to me today in a concrete way.
A few years after Sarah gives birth to Isaac she demands that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away. In that way she can get rid of the evidence of her previous unbelief and eliminate any contention for Abraham's inheritance. God assures Abraham that he will take care of Hagar and their son, so Abraham does as Sarah wants. When Hagar's and Ishmael's supplies run out in the desert, God sends a heavenly messenger to provide for them and to reassure them that Ishmael will be the father of a great nation (Genesis 21:8-21).
Like Sarah, who among us wants signs of our unbelief around to remind us on a daily basis that we didn't trust what God had promised? I surely don't. I like to pretend that I've always been a stalwart believer in everything God has said, and I have never questioned or doubted. The truth is I probably doubt something every day.
Let's look at what has happened in the story, though. Neither Abraham nor Sarah is reproved for their doubts. God provides for Hagar and Ishmael. God keeps his promises.
Since we are in Holy Week, I'll make comparisons around the death of Jesus. Peter doubts and denies he even knows Jesus. Peter goes on to be a great man of God. After the resurrection, the apostle Thomas doubts that Jesus is risen. Thomas goes on to be a great man of God.
For reflection: How can I overcome my doubts?
Let us pray. Jesus, I'm having a hard time believing . . . . Help my unbelief.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.