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Easter 3: Jesus Has Many Disguises.

By: Sr. Doreen, SSJD

Acts 3: 12-19 / Psalm 4 / 1 John 3: 1-7 / Luke 24: 33-48

You will have noticed, as I have, that the readings for Easter week are repeated on this Sunday, and indeed last Sunday as well. When we get repeats so close together, I always feel that God is trying to get my attention … it’s almost like saying okay, here it is again, what new truth can you claim for your own gospel story.

So the Third Sunday of Easter – and the lectionary choices today seem to me to be full of clues for those times when we, like the disciples after the events of Holy Week and Easter, find ourselves often in situations afraid and confused, anxious and speculating – when we seem to have come to the end of something without having any idea how to begin again. All of this has been made so much more poignant for so many people with the prolonged battle that we are having with the COVID virus. I found myself hearing voices – questions and answering voices – throughout the readings we have today.

In Acts, Peter responds to the questions of the people – it is God who heals and restores and calls us to wholeness and health, and longs for us to return from our waywardness, and with broken and contrite hearts return to the circle of God’s love.

It is the same wisdom of the psalm – It is God who astounds the merciful, the chosen ones – and we are all the chosen ones, the wise, so stand in awe and wonder before this God of yours, put far from you every evil, every lie and commune with God deep within your hearts, and then in silence wait and listen well at night upon your beds. That inner calling and that answering voice. That same search to understand.

There is often a wide gap between the human point of view and God’s agenda for humanity. In this psalm especially we see this swinging back and forth, and I think we all know personally that these two conditions exist within us, side by side – causing tension, struggle, and turmoil. We know our deep self and we know our surface self. And we know the hard work of sacrifice – any offering to God that requires something of us that is beyond our normal selves. That inner calling and that answering voice.

The 1 John letter Continues this same theme of the answering voice – acknowledging the love of God, that we are God’s own beloved who have this hope – that we shall be like God, for we shall see God as God really is. And so the letter of 1 John goes on t0 point out that the struggle – the sacrifice with that wide gap, that deep self and that surface self is our call to that deep spiritual life where we are held in the circle of God’s love now and forever. That inner calling and that answering voice. That same search to understand.

The Gospel story according to Luke – it‘s our story: folks on the lonely road to Emmaus – the sad walk after a beloved person has died, in the glad company of someone who joins them, folks who finally recognize Jesus and return to tell their news. And in the room in Jerusalem, the gathered company sit troubled, confused, sad and doubting when they have company arrive. Jesus appears on the lonely road and in the room of gathered folks, to the disappointed, the doubtful, the disconsolate – to us who don’t even recognize Jesus who is walking at our side, who comes to us in the midst of company. The gospel takes up the same theme for us – the blessedness of brokenness and the good news of wholeness.

Since the event of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the disciples have been in this same quandary: the turmoil of sadness, disappointment, confusion and doubt – then the appearance of the risen Jesus – and the joy, the amazement, the overwhelming mystery of it all.
There are moments when we know Jesus in the midst of our confusions and doubts and our eyes are opened: much like the experience of the disciples – when together Jesus took the bread, broke the bread, blessed the bread, and their eyes were opened and they recognized him – there are moments when we are together when we need reassurance in the midst of our doubts as the disciples did when Jesus appeared amongst them, showed them the marks on hands and feet, “touch me” Jesus says. And then asks for them to share something to eat.

And so, says God, what new truth can you claim for your own gospel story?

In these exchanges I found two quotes that helped me to put into words some clues for new truths:

(Barbara Taylor – Gospel Medicine) “To take what we have been given, whether we like it or not, and to bless it – to say thank you for it – whether it is the sweet satisfying bread of success or the tear-soaked bread of sorrow. To say thank you and to break it because that is the only way it can be shared, and to hand it around, not to eat it all by ourselves but to find someone to eat it with, so that the broken loaf may bring all us broken ones together into one body, where we may recognize the risen Lord in our midst.”

(Herbert O’Driscoll) “Touch me in bread and wine. Touch me in another person beside you. Feel the flesh and bones, the reality of faith”
“Do we have anything for Jesus to eat? Do we have any resources, spiritual supplies to draw on to live in these changing, challenging times?”

In the midst of doubts and surprise, the spiritual companionship with one another is what makes us whole and human – and always a chance that when we are sharing together (be it eating together, praying together, playing together, meeting and discussing together – arguing, laughing, disagreeing, crying …) we will discover the risen Jesus in our midst. Jesus comes into the midst of our questions, our confusion, our times together, our joys and our sorrows, earth’s beauty and earth’s tragedies, not with fanfare – not with earthquake, fire, or wind – but in the sheer ordinariness, the gentle friendship of being along side and in the midst of us. All the propers in todays lectionary hold these out with open hands as offerings to us.

What are the helpful clues or the pay attention mindfulness in this weeks propers that might help us hear the answering voice calling us to recognize God in our midst?

  • It’s probably a good idea to pay attention to strangers since Jesus seems to have a whole closet full of disguises
  • Whenever there is a sudden change in the way our life looks to us – from feeling hopeless to beginning to see possibilities,
  • when huge problems begin to have handles on them that we didn’t notice before,
  • when there seems to be a tiny wee inkling like a light in the distance where there was only darkness before
  • and I suspect that you might have discovered other clues in these readings

The disciples, you and me, using these clues recognized Jesus – by staying on the look out, by listening real hard, by living in expectation.

Jesus asks us over and over again in several different ways “Do you have something to eat” “Touch me” “Come and have breakfast” – on the street corners and in the alleys, in families and friends, in community and in each other. It is there that God stands – it is there that our eyes can be opened, and we can recognize the risen Saviour of the world. Jesus, always alongside us as companion and friend, invites us as witnesses to these things to go: to wake up, to get up, to take it in – the resurrection is a daily event, a burst of energy, we have the whole glorious resurrection world given to us to share.

Thank be to God, Amen.