Sunday, April 22, 2018
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Why don't we experience the risen Jesus the way the disciples experienced him 2000 years ago? I think there are two answers to this question. One, we are expecting too much. And the other, which I think is far more likely, we settle for to little.
How do we expect too much? I think it is because we expect it to look exactly like it is depicted in the Gospels. Jesus, suddenly appearing, perhaps a little ghostlike with the ability to walk through doors. First let me say that I believe Jesus does all these things right up to the present moment. The problem is we don't know how to see it, or I should say him.
The disciples have the opposite problem, they were expecting far too little. They believed that their friend had been killed, and they were huddled together in the upper room terrified that what happened to Jesus was going to happened to them. In that setting of fear and disappointment Jesus comes in and stands in their midst saying, "Peace be with you." The disciples reaction is one of terror. They think they've seen a ghost. Now this is when I imagine Jesus saying to himself, "Oops. Overshot that one. Too much, too soon?" Then Jesus says, "Let's try this again."
So Jesus dials it back and shows them his hands, his side and his feet. Although transformed, Jesus bears the marks of his suffering and death. Jesus is more slowly revealing himself to the disciples. And then he does something they have done hundreds and hundreds of times before. He asks them for something to eat and he ate it “right in front of them.”
The other very important thing that the disciples are doing is telling stories. At the beginning of today's Gospel, they're telling and retelling each other what the women experienced at the tomb, what the two disciples experienced on the Road to Emmaus - that he wasn't there, that he was rumored to be alive - too good to be true. But they told the stories and the stories are confirmed by their own lived experiences. The disciples in today's story will tell Thomas, who wasn't there; and Thomas won't believe until his experience matches the stories he's heard.
The last half of today's Gospel is Jesus explaining the scriptures to them and how the Scriptures all relate to him and to what has happened to him. Actually this gospel is the outline and pattern of our own faith lives. Simply put we have gathered together today in this sort of upper room. We, like the disciples, listen to the Scriptures and hopefully listen to them to see how they are played out in our own lives. Sometimes they challenge us, at other times they comfort us, and they always tell us that we are not alone. And the last thing we do today in this upper room, after hearing and pondering the Scriptures, we, like Jesus and the disciples, eat a meal together. We do all this because Jesus simply said, "Do this in memory of me.”
When we leave this place, how do we experience the risen Jesus? First by becoming the body of Christ for others. By not only receiving the Eucharist but becoming the Eucharist for others. We are going to walk through many doors today. We're going to eat with all different sorts of people today. Jesus is going to come to us through others, through the homeless we see on our streets, to our kids who scrape their knees and need a hug, through television, radio, and articles about people who don't have enough to eat, through our mother Earth who is trying desperately to maintain balance but we won't cooperate, through communities around the world who are crying for peace as we build up armaments.
The risen Jesus is in us to be shared with others. And the risen Jesus still scarred, broken, and crucified calls out to us for healing.