After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, during the time of King Herod, magi from the east came to pay homage to the king of the Jews. Guided by a star, these distinguished foreigners came to the place where the child Jesus was. Upon seeing him with his mother, they worshipped him, opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Mt 2,11).
Fast forward to the moment of the Resurrection and the roles are reversed. This time, the Risen King visited his disciples, bringing three gifts with him. The Gospel tells us that on the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them (Jn 20,19).
What are the three gifts of the Risen One? Pope Francis spoke about these gifts three weeks ago, during his Regina Coeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday. I found his address closely linked to a homily he shared a few days later in Sofia, during his visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia. In that homily, the Pope described God through three dynamics: He calls, He surprises, and He loves.
According to Francis, peace is the first gift of the Risen Christ. In fact, the first words of Jesus to the disciples are: “Peace be with you”. The disciples were in great need of this peace. After the capture and death of their master, they were plunged in dismay and fear.
The Risen One ‘invites us not only to be surprised, but also to do surprising things’
Reflecting on the God who calls, the Pope observed: “His is the power of a love that overturns every expectation and is always ready to start anew. In Jesus, God always offers us another chance. He calls us day by day to deepen our love for Him and to be revived by His eternal newness. Every morning, He comes to find us where we are.”
Am I open to the receive the gift of peace?
Joy is the second gift of Easter. We are told that the disciples were glad when they saw the Risen Lord. Indeed, it seems that they could not believe what they were seeing because of their joy. As the opening paragraph of Evangelii Gaudium resounds: “With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.”
Am I open to receive the giftof joy?
The third gift is mission. Jesus sends the disciples as the Father has sent him: “Jesus’s Resurrection is the beginning of a new dynamism of love, capable of transforming the world with the presence of the Holy Spirit.” For Francis, the Risen One “invites us not only to be surprised, but also to do surprising things”.
We are used to link the idea of three gifts to Christmas. Yet we are invited to seriously reflect on the consequences of the three gifts of Easter. From the capital of Bulgaria, Francis invited Christians “to testify to the love of Christ, a love that inspires and directs us to strive for the common good. This love enables us to serve the poor and to become protagonists of the revolution of charity and service, capable of resisting the pathologies of consumerism and superficial individualism. Brimming with the love of Christ, be living witnesses of the Gospel in every corner of this city.”
Are we open to receive the gift of mission?
Fr Kevin Schembri is a lecturer at the Faculty of Theology and a member of staff at the Ecclesiastical Tribunal.
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