Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Easter 3 B - Apr 19, 2015

Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY
Br. José Folgueira, OHC
Easter 3 B – Sunday, April 19, 2015

Acts 3:12-19
1 John 3:1-7
Luke 24:36b-48

Pop-In Jesus
The resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples
In several resurrection appearance stories, Jesus pops in and he pops out. People respond in a variety of ways to his appearances. The variety of responses to Jesus’ popping in throughout all four gospels is hard to miss. Some people worship him immediately. Some don’t recognize him until there is some word, or action that reminds them of their former time with him, a calling of their name, a breaking of bread, a miraculous catch of fish. Some react with a combination of joy and doubt. In Luke the disciples responses to Jesus pop in appearances  vary. Once on the Emmaus road, disciples recognize Jesus in the breaking of bread, with hindsight they say that “their hearts burned” while he talked to them on the road. Yet, a few short verses later, they seem to join the other disciples in responding to his next pop in visit with terror, as if seeing a ghost. After seeing his hands and feet, there was a joy, but still disbelief and wonder. 

Jesus pops in and people worship, tremble with fear, rejoice, wonder and doubt. And, just when they get used to the idea that he is back, he has to leave again. How is that for a pop-in / pop-out appearance?

I have mentioned that people respond to pop-in Jesus in varying ways. He responds in varying ways to them as well, meeting them where they are, with what they need. He offers peace to the fearful. He offers a challenge to the slow of heart and the persistently doubtful. He offers teaching to the uninformed or the forgetful. He offers a blessing and a purpose to those he is about to leave.

When somebody in everyday life has a startling habit of popping in unexpectedly, we are tempted to say to them, “Next time, how about giving me some warning?” When they leave suddenly, we are tempted to say “Next time, how about saying goodbye and not just disappearing?”

In the odd plot of our lives in which people come and go, pop in and pop out, it is good to have one person we can count on and introduce to everyone we know. The resurrection appearances in Luke say to us, in effect: Consider yourself warned. Jesus is coming back at a time we cannot predict. And Jesus has said goodbye only to say hello. Jesus is with us in the presence and person of the Holy Spirit. He only left so he could stay.

Luke’s story of Jesus popping in to his disciples in Jerusalem is less well known, but is equally important. It revolves around a table instead of a tomb.

A meal is familiar territory for Jesus. He is famous for feeding the crowds of five thousands, notorious for eating with tax collectors and sinners. His hospitality reveals his desire to nourish people both physically and spiritually.

At a table, he eats with a Pharisee and forgives a sinful woman and institutes the Lord’s Supper. He later hits the beach to cook a fish breakfast for his disciples. Jesus offers a welcoming table and instructs his followers in the nature of hospitality with the words, “when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Jesus welcomes everyone to his table.

Meals are not just about food. They are about companionship. The resurrected Jesus is a hungry Jesus. And Jesus is not hungry because he has been in the tomb for three days, but he is hungry to share a meal and celebrate life, hungry for them to become a new community of faithful, courageous living; hungry for them to break bread together and with strangers everywhere  until strangers are strange no more. This hunk of broiled fish that they offer to Jesus is real and physical and present, it becomes a tasted and smelled symbol of the love that binds them together, the love that binds us together, a sign of how God has gathered us and how God feeds us. And in the breaking of bread together, in the eating together, their eyes are opened, and they see Jesus for who he truly is. 

This resurrection account in Luke was so powerful for the early Church that in many places they seem to have included fish in their celebration of the Eucharist, as part of the resurrection meal. Even after the practice died out, the symbol of the fish became a sign for the resurrected Christ, and altars and church windows are adorned with the fish. Even bumper stickers. 

Every week as we gather here in this place, we live out this story over and over again. We come as friends, as family, to gather around this table, to hear the scriptures and to have our minds opened to new understandings of them, just as Jesus did with the followers in this story. 

When we share the peace in a few moments, we will speak to one another just as Christ does, saying “Peace be with you.” We speak to one another in all of our fear and doubt and disbelief, and we hear that peace spoken back to us in our own doubt and fear, mixed with disbelieving joy. As you reach to shake the hand, look carefully.... the hand you grasp may bear wounds. And then we gather around the table to eat and drink, to share a meal, and in the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine, to have our eyes and hearts opened to the ways that the Risen One is truly present among us, showing up to walk alongside us in our journeys along all the roads we travel, even though we do not always recognize him at first.

We gather at this meal for companionship and community, to hear one another’s stories of where we have seen the Risen Christ in the unexpected places in our lives, and to remind one another to look for Christ in the face of the stranger. That is why we include young and old, stranger and friend, in the meal. We eat not because we have already figured out who Jesus is.... we eat so that in in the breaking of the bread, Jesus can be revealed to us in new ways. And then we go out fed, but we also go out with Jesus resurrection hunger, hungry for the same things that Jesus is hungry for. We go out to bring others to the banquet, to feed others both physically and spiritually, and to offer companionship and love and community. We go out to look for the Risen Christ in the face of the stranger, to know him in the breaking of the bread in all of our eating, at this table or at our own. We go out from this table to be witness to the power and reality of resurrection.
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looksCompassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, not feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looksCompassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
                                                               Teresa de Avila

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