How do you know if Jesus speaks to you? Tuesday within the Easter Octave – Acts 2:36-41/John 20:11-18

Read also based on the first reading of today.

There are several times that I have heard the voice of Jesus talking to me. I ask him a question and he gives me an answer. Ironically this is always followed by doubt, which most certainly is sowed by satan. The first things that satan tries to do is to convince me that this is not HIS voice but my mind giving me the answers that I want to hear. I am sure this has been the experience of many people of faith.

So how do you know if Jesus is actually speaking to you while you are praying? The first thing that must be said is that while it is possible that God could speak to just about anyone out of the blue, that possibility is also as slim as a blue moon. It is true, that God spoke to St Paul who consented to St Stephen’s murder and threw him off his high horse. Yet, I must caution those who take comfort and hope that the same may apply to you. But for those who are in constant communion with God in prayer his voice becomes easily discernable overtime.

In the Gospel of John (10:27), Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” To know the voice of Jesus, the sheep must first know the shepherd. Sadly, our shallow spiritual life may lead us to bit of information about the shepherd; we may know about him but the question at hand is do we know him? Mary of Magdala knew him personally for she had shared in his ministry from the moment he touched her life till the moment his life ebbed out on the cross. He had called her by her name many times and she knew her master’s voice.

Why then did she not recognize Jesus? From the Gospels we know that the women were not looking for a resurrected man; they were looking for a dead man; this is why they came with spices, for spices were used to anoint the dead. Faith in the resurrection was something she heard the Lord speak of (like we do) but faith in his promise was yet to dawn on her.

Perhaps she did not recognize the Lord because we know that our resurrected bodies will not be what they are on earth. Mary perhaps did not recognize his resurrected form. Or perhaps it was early in the day, “while it was still dark” (John20:1) when streetlights had not yet come to be installed…. Or perhaps as in the case of the two disciples on the road to the village of Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) we are told “their eyes were kept from recognizing him” until he had explained how the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled by him. Whatever be the case, what the eyes could not recognize, the ears picked up and this sheep heard her master’s voice.

Jesus said just one word, and all was explained. She heard her name called out by a familiar and distinct voice; a voice she had heard so often. She instantly called Him ‘Rabboni’. Jesus didn’t reveal Himself to Mary by telling her who He was, but by telling her who she was to Him. She was Mary who will henceforth will not just be a disciple but will be elevated to an apostle. Let me explain this.

In the Gospel of John, Mary is the first one to see the resurrected Lord. She tells the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” It was not Peter or John who entered the empty tomb and saw the Lord; strangely while the Gospel of John tells us that Peter and John entered the tomb and that John believed (nothing is said about Peter believing), we are then told they “went to their homes.” This almost seems like an anticlimax to the Easter narrative.

So now it falls upon a woman to pick up where the men stopped short. Mary now becomes the apostle to the apostles. The very word apostle means, “one who is sent.” She receives the Easter mandate to go and proclaim to the apostles. Her Easter proclamation is to the apostles, two of whom who were with her at the tomb and saw nothing. Now she has to give these apostles, chosen by the Lord, a message from their Lord and we know from the Gospels that they reduced the Easter message to “idle tales.”

The first Easter proclamation was rejected by the very people who should have been proclaiming it. If faith is faltering, you stand in good company. Don’t give up the Lord has plans and your wavering faith is part of his plan.


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