Rev. John Kha Tran, Houston, TX

Acts 2:42-47; 1Peter 1:3-9; Jo 20:19-31

When they were in a restaurant, a husband asked his wife, "Be honest! Honey. Tell me how am I as a lover?"

She replied, "Honey, I would definitely say that you're a warm lover."

"Really?" he said excitedly.

"Yes," she said, "In fact I would say that you're certainly the dictionary definition of the word 'warm'."

He was pleased until he went home to open the dictionary and found the definition, "WARM means not so hot."

The Presence of the Risen Jesus

According to the experts today, during the recovery process after a tragic event like September 11th, it is not uncommon to experience grief, nightmares, restlessness, anger, panic, numbness, detachment, hyper-alertness and a loss of concentration. After the tragic death of Jesus, the disciples are troubled, worried and uncertain about their future. They are still in shock and not even in the process of recovery yet. They are hiding behind the locked doors to stay away from the Jews. John’s Gospel tells us that they are in fear, worry, and despair. Suddenly Jesus appears and greets them, "Peace be with you." Then Jesus shows them his hands, his feet and his side. He eats with them. So they realize that He is alive, and their fear disappears. Jesus is with them again in a new way.

Because Thomas is not there with them, he is not aware of the new presence of the risen Jesus. He continues to have doubt, fear, worry, and despair. When the other disciples tell him that they have seen the Lord, Thomas cannot believe them. In human way of thinking, how can he believe them when not too longer ago they were hiding and running away when Jesus was arrested? How can he believe them when Peter shamefully denied Jesus three times? Not a single one of them had the courage to speak out in defending Jesus. They all abandoned Jesus and let him suffered and died alone in humiliation. Only when Jesus appears again and shows the scars and the marks of his suffering that Thomas can believe and experience the new presence of Jesus.

Twice Jesus appears to them, and twice he shows them the marks on his hands, his feet and his side. Why does Jesus do that? He does that because he wants to show them the marks of his sufferings. These are the proofs of his love for them, for the world and for all of us. Jesus is the hot lover, and the hot lover sacrifices his life for others.

Becoming Hot Christian Lovers

To convince the disciples that he is alive, Jesus has to show them the scars of his wounds, the marks of his self-sacrificing love. These are the signs and the marks of the hot Christian lover. To be the followers of Jesus in today’s world, we have the burden and the responsibility to prove to others and to the world that Jesus is risen from the death. He is alive. We do this by becoming the hot Christian lovers. How are we going to do that? What evidences are you going to show to your spouses that you are hot Christian lovers? What evidences are we going to show to our families, to our friends, and to the world that we are hot Christian lovers? What are our marks and evidences?

The Model of Hot Christian Community

The first reading describes for us the spirit of the original Christian community. They are hot Christian lovers. They are hot Christian community. They are of one heart and one mind. Everything is held in common. There is not anyone needy among them. Everyday they devote themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They praise God and enjoy favor with all the people. God and others are their primary concerns in daily life. St. Peter says in the second reading, "Although you have not seen him you love him, and you believe in him. Hot Christian lovers are working to attain the goal of faith, the salvation of souls." Hot Christian lovers are aware of their new birth in the resurrection of Christ. Hot Christian lovers are seeking what is imperishable, undefile and unfading. Hot Christian lovers stand faithfully through trials with genuiness of faith.

In reality, we have strayed too far away from the model of the first Christian community. We are living in the world with so many divisions, hatreds, tragedies, trials, and wars. For example, the Holy Land is the most sacred place on earth, but now there are so much hatred, doubts, divisions, suffering and killings among the people living there. Last Thursday, a sixty two years old Palestinian who had been ringing the Church’s bell there for the last thirty year was shot to death right at the door of his house and only thirty feet from the church’s bell tower. The people there are living in fear and despair. Here in our country, we are in fear and doubt too. We have destroyed the Taliban’s regime. We have destroyed the Al Queida’s organization in Afghanistan. We have captured the right hand man of Osamar Bin Ladin, but the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the FBI are still saying that the threat of terrorist attack on America and American citizens is still very high. The homeland security chief, Tom Ridge says, "America is on yellow alert, facing a significant risk of terrorist attacks.

The Catholic Church in our country is also living in fear and despair because of so many lawsuits against the Church. Our people are facing and having a lot of doubt and uncertainty. Last Friday, Fr. Rooney, a priest of the diocese of Cleveland, because he had been a victim of child abuse, and he was also facing two accusations and allegations of sexual abuses of others, sadly he took his own life. We wonder when are we going to experience peace again? Who is going to restore peace in the Church and in the world? More than ever, we are in need of the gift of peace from Jesus. We will not be able to overcome the fear, the doubt and the despair without Jesus. We will not be able to have peace in our hearts, at home, in the Church and in the world without Jesus. Peace is a gift from God given through the Risen Jesus. The disciples could not overcome their fear and despair until Jesus comes back into their lives. It should be the same for us.

Jesus, the Hot Lover

As a real hot lover, Jesus comes back not in order to blame his disciples for having deserted him. He does not come back to blame Peter for denying him three times. He does not come back to revenge or to humiliate the high priests, the Pharisees, and the Roman soldiers. He comes back to give the gift of peace to his disciples. He comes back to heal the wounds in the hearts of his disciples. He comes back to strengthen their faith, to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins. He comes back to commission them to go into the world to proclaim the Good News, to forgive sinners and to reconcile people to God. He comes back to make his disciples to become hot lovers like Him. He comes back to make us hot Christian lovers, to forgive, to heal, to reconcile and to be the instruments of peace.