This reflection will help youth consider the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How does Jesus help us overcome our fears?
Gather everyone around and turn out the lights. Shine a flashlight on your face. It’s time for a short ghost story.
A young husband and wife were driving home from a weekend in the country. Their car had engine trouble, so they stopped on the lonely road. The husband got out his cell phone to call for help, but there was no signal.
He saw the light of a house not far away, so they walked over and rang the doorbell. A nice elderly couple, a farmer and his wife, answered. The couple explained the problem with their car. The elderly farmer said that the local service station would be closed at that hour. He mentioned that he had some experience with engines from working on his tractor and he would take a look. Meanwhile, the farmer’s wife invited them to come keep her company.
The farmer came back and said he had fixed the engine, but it was only temporary. Since it was almost midnight by then, the farmer and his wife invited the young couple to stay in the guest bedroom, rather than going back on the road with a car which might not get very far anyway. The young couple was very tired, and the farmer and his wife seemed so nice, they agreed to stay.
The young couple arose very early the next morning. They didn’t want to disturb the farmer and his wife, but they wanted to leave them something for all of their trouble, so they left a couple of crisp twenty dollar bills under the vase on the kitchen table. Then they walked back to their car.
The car started and they drove up the road for about five miles. They came to a diner and they went in for breakfast. They were telling their story to the owner of the diner.
“Where did you say this was?” the owner of the diner asked.
“About five miles back down the road.” the young wife answered.
The diner owner said, “You must be mistaken. Nobody lives over there. The Henderson’s used to live there. They were a sweet couple. But they both died in a terrible house fire three years ago. The house is gone.”
The young couple started to wonder if they were completely lost and turned around. So they backtracked down the road. They came upon the place where the car had died and saw the long driveway. As they walked up the driveway and went around the bend, they came upon the burnt out shell of a house. They walked up and could see the charred kitchen table. And there, under a charred vase, were two crisp twenty dollar bills.
Turn the lights back on and give the teens a few minutes to react and talk about the story.
- What is it that makes a good ghost story?
- Why do we enjoy being scared by ghost stories?
Read the gospel:
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”Luke 24:35-48
It is not surprising that the disciples were frightened. They had seen Jesus die. They thought he must be a ghost.
But the Resurrection does not make a good ghost story. Jesus goes to great lengths not to scare his friends. He reassures them. He eats food in front of them. He makes it clear that he is really there physically.
Then he explains everything to them. He patiently goes through Scripture and tells them how it all points to him. This must have been a lot for the disciples to absorb.
- Do you think the disciples were reassured and confident right away?
- Is it possible that they needed some time to discuss and process their experience with the risen Jesus?
- What evidence do we have that they came to believe completely in the Resurrection? (They left their homes and everything familiar, many were martyred, etc)
- How is Jesus physically present to us? (The Eucharist, the sacraments)
- Does Jesus comfort us and offer us peace as he did the early disciples?
- What can we do when we have doubts? (Prayer, turn to each other, talk to a priest or youth minister)
- How would our lives be different if Jesus had not died and risen?
This week your challenge is to think about what the Resurrection means. Spend a few minutes each day in prayer, speaking to our risen Lord. If there is anything you are fearful of right now, then listen to Jesus. Imagine him sitting next to you speaking words of peace and comfort.
If possible, arrange to spend 15 minutes in Eucharistic adoration with the group. Or prayer in front of the tabernacle.