As we move into the Easter Season, we will be listening to the beautiful stories of Jesus’ appearances after his death. Although the settings for the revelations are different, in each one “the disciples are testifying that Jesus became present to them in a new way beyond the distance of time and space forged by death. He was not annihilated by death [evil or unjust powers] but transformed to new life by the Spirit and able to inspire them [and us] with peace and boldness.” *
We know the stories well:
When the women went to anoint the body of Jesus, worrying about who would roll back the stone, they became fearful, confused and did not know what to think as they saw the stone to the entrance of the tomb rolled back and the tomb empty. But then Jesus met them, greeted them, and said “Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:14)
When Jesus found Mary Magdalene weeping because she could not find his body, Jesus appeared and called her by name, and she recognized him. (John 20:11)
As the word spread about Jesus’ rising from the dead, some doubted and Jesus had to turn their doubt to belief. (Matthew 28:17, John 20:24)
When two of the disciples were on the way to Emmaus, Jesus joined them and listened to their loss of hope. Jesus explained the message of the prophets, gradually revealed himself to the disciples, and once revealed, accepted their invitation to stay and eat with them. (Luke 24:13)
Jesus met the disciples on a mountain in Galilee and told them: I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. Go and spread the good news to everyone. (Matt 28:16)
In each of the stories, the message is: God loves us, God likes us, God delights in being with us. God knows us, calls us each by name, deepens our faith when we doubt, comforts us when we are sad, gives us peace when we are worried, and gives us courage when we are afraid. God walks with us in all the twists, valleys and mountain tops of our life – never abandoning us and always accompanying us into the unknown future.
*Creation and the Cross: The Mercy of God for a Planet in Peril by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ
Risen Jesus, help us to be human expressions of the God you proclaimed: a God who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. May we know deeply God’s great love for us, and like God, lean toward those suffering, oppressed and poor. We ask this in the name of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit who can do infinitely more in us than we can ask or imagine. Amen.