He Opened Their Minds to Understand

A Reflection by Fr. Kingsley for 3rd Sunday of Easter (Year B).
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19 – 1John 2:1-5 – Luke 24:35-48.

Today I am inspired to reflect with you on what happened to the disciples as Jesus was talking to them.

After Jesus had shown Himself to the disciples for them to see, touch and believe, and after having eaten with them, the word of God tells us that He opened their minds to understand the scriptures (v.45).

When I was in primary school (many years ago!), some parents including mine used to take their children to a certain teacher’s house for extra coaching during the holidays. The teacher ensured that any monies raised from the voluntary contributions made by the parents were put towards benefiting the children in her care. Sometimes, when one of the pupils was still struggling to understand a topic despite her having done all she could to help the child grasp it, she would be overheard appealing to the skies that, “I should have been a surgeon… I have a head to open and books to put into it!”. When I look back at her appeal with amusement and affection, I also think of Jesus striving and doing His utmost to open the minds of His disciples, doing all He could to help them to understand things fulfilled in Him that were prophesied in the Scriptures, to understand things fulfilled in Him in accordance with God’s will.

In the Upper Room after the resurrection, Jesus opened the minds of the Eleven to understand both Him and His mission. That was not a one-off event, of course. From the start of His public ministry, Jesus had always given His inner circle extra coaching on what He was doing and why He was doing it. He used to take the Twelve aside and explain things to them but not to others. For example, He spoke in parables and explained them to the disciples, but He purposely didn’t explain them to the crowds because they look without seeing, hear without listening nor understanding (Mt 13:13) because their hearts have grown dull, they barely hear with their ears or see with their eyes or understand with their hearts, lest they would understand with their heart and turn to [Him] to be healed (Mt 13:14f). Jesus used to coach the disciples and open their minds, not only because He wanted them to learn from Him and to prepare them for their ecclesial mission after His Ascension, but also because they were disposed for Jesus to do his work in them.

A preacher asked some people this question: “Why did God reveal Himself to us in the Bible?”

The first person replied that God revealed Himself to us so that He could deliver His message to us, a message which has taken the human race many centuries to understand. He backed his assertion up by citing this passage of scripture: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. (Heb 1:1f)

The second person replied that God is good (Ps 107:1) and He is truth (Ps 119:160). He pointed out that, in His goodness, God doesn’t want us either to be living in ignorance of Him or to be taken in by a pack of lies from the Prince of Lies. He backed up his assertion by citing Jesus’ guidance of Nicodemus in his quest to know more about Him (Jn 3:1-21).

The third person replied that God is the Good Shepherd who takes care of His own, and that when God’s flock hear His voice, they follow him. He backed up his assertion by citing Jesus’ discourse on the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11ff).

Now, if I were to ask you the same question, you might well be willing to ‘have a go’ at answering it. Think about what you might say. But here’s a spoiler: I know that no matter what answer you come up with, it will be connected in some way with love – with the love that He has for all of us, for God is love (1Jn 4:7ff). Love is why He revealed Himself to us so that we have the capacity to know Him for ourselves, to experience His love, to understand His message of love for each and every one of us, to know that He loves us so much that He sacrificed Himself for us to pay our debt of sin and restore us to relationship with Him, and to know His will for us to be with Him in heaven for eternity.

That same question is allied to asking why Jesus opened the minds of the disciples so that they understood the scriptures. The answer is to be found in all today’s Mass readings. In the Gospel, He opened their minds so that the disciples understood why everything happened as it did, and so that the message of repentance and forgiveness of sin would be preached (initially by them) to all nations (Mk 16:15). In the 1st reading, it was this message of repentance and forgiveness of sin that Peter proclaimed to the Jews. In the 2nd reading, John delivered that same message so that you may not sin. The message for us that we glean from these readings is that our minds must be opened to the scriptures, so that in them we may be given the strength and grace to overcome sin, to repent of our past sins, to obtain forgiveness and to live in God’s love.

How disposed are you today to allow Jesus Himself to be your guide through the scriptures? How disposed are you to learn from Him for He is gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls (Mt 11:29)? Are there things in your life that keep your mind closed to His word or that distract you from taking on board for yourself the word of God? ‘Why’ is always a hard question, but ‘why’ are you fearful about taking that step to commit to God’s word and living it out for yourself for the rest of your life?

Jesus is interested in ensuring that you yourself come to understand God’s word and will. Why? So that you can have absolute certainty that their intention is for you to be freed from sin, and so to become holy and acceptable to Him. When you finally become united to God in holiness, that will be the accomplishment of God’s work in you. It is the Faith of the Church that each one of us shall be bound together eternally with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen. God bless you.