Jesus is right in our midst

| Father David Hennen | April 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

Stained Glass window in the 15th Century Elzenveld Chapel in Antwerp, Belgium, depicting Jesus and two disciples at Emmaus iStock/Jorisvo

Last Sunday, we heard from John’s Gospel about the resurrection appearance to the disciples in the locked room and specifically about Thomas, who doubted. On this third Sunday of Easter, we have another resurrection appearance from the Gospel of Luke.

The two disciples who encountered Jesus on the way to Emmaus have returned to tell the other disciples. Imagine the excitement as they spoke about their experience when Jesus suddenly appears. The Gospel states that, “he stood there in their midst.” He didn’t come through the door or climb in the window. He simply just appeared.

It is interesting to note what Jesus does not say. He does not ask, “Why did you leave me?” or “How could you abandon me when I needed you most?” He does not rebuke them or chastise them for their lack of courage. Instead, he simply says, “Peace be with you.” Sensing their fear and questions, he continues by saying, “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.” Even more amazing is that Jesus asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

What a beautiful reminder to us that in the midst of our struggles and brokenness, Jesus comes to us and offers us peace. He does not want to shame us or embarrass us. He doesn’t expect that we need to get our life in order before he will have anything to do with us. The example of Jesus is often the opposite of how we treat others. Don’t we often hold others accountable when they have failed? We are so good at producing a litany of events where others have disappointed us or fallen short in some way. It can even feel good to be able to remind someone of their shortcomings.

Jesus, in his great mercy, does not see in us where we have failed. Jesus instead sees our potential and a possibility for greatness and holiness. He comes and meets us right where we are and wants to accompany us as we seek to be his disciples.

I don’t want to suggest that we are given a free pass for the sins and failures of our past. There are consequences for our sins, but they do not define who we are as sons and daughters of God. Later in the Gospel, Jesus mentions the importance of repentance and the need to seek forgiveness for our sins. Jesus’ appearance in the Gospel today reminds us that we don’t have a vengeful God waiting for us when we sin. We have a merciful God who wants to give us peace.

I do find it interesting that in this resurrection appearance, Jesus ate that piece of baked fish in front of the disciples. This meal and the other meals that Jesus shared with them after his resurrection reveal to us the importance of the Eucharist. When we gather for Mass and receive the Eucharist, we have an encounter with the Lord that is even more profound than the appearance of Jesus to his disciples. With an open heart, we can actually become what we eat. When that happens, our “amen” means that we are saying yes to the commission to go and announce the good news.

Father Hennen, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hastings, was ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2005. He has served at Epiphany in Coon Rapids and St. Francis Xavier in Buffalo.

Sunday, April 15
Third Sunday of Easter

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Category: Sunday Scriptures