Sunday, April 19, 2015

The One Who Comes & Stands Among Us

What if...the next time you came here for the Eucharist, when it comes time to pass the Peace, you turn to the bearded man next to you, and as your eyes meet his, you suddenly realize beyond doubt that it’s none other than Jesus? How do you think you’d react: frightened? startled? embarrassed? guilty? Would you feel overwhelmed? full of peace? overcome with joy? One thing is sure: you wouldn’t be indifferent! You’d probably feel many or all of the same emotions exhibited by the Apostles in today’s Gospel passage. Luke records that Jesus’ followers become “startled and frightened” when Jesus himself suddenly appears among them. You’ll remember from last week’s Gospel how Jesus greets them: “Peace be with you!” Whenever Jesus comes and stands among people, his usual way of appearing after the Resurrection, wherever he’s present, he brings peace.

Once it dawns on Jesus‘ followers that he is, indeed, really present with them, Jesus can explain the real meaning and purpose of his visit. Luke says: “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures...”, and he tells them that the suffering, the forgiveness and, above all, the love, of Jesus is to be preached to all, beginning in Jerusalem. “You”, he says, “are witnesses…”, i.e., people who attest that something is, indeed, true and factual, whether by reasoning or by faith. Jesus presents himself in both ways. His is a complete spelling out, an unfolding, a revelation of who he is: the One, as St. John says,  who “was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands...” (1 John 1:1), on whom you and I have set our hearts and whom we now share with others.

The other day, a priest friend of mine posted a beautiful story: “The Most Honest, Beautiful, Important Question I Have Ever Heard Anyone Ask”, dated April 1, 2015, and found on the blog by Glennon Doyle Melton, called Momastery — I urge you to check it out because it expresses very beautifully and far better than I ever could just what it means for the Risen Jesus to come and stand among us.

In today’s Collect we asked, “...Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work...” On those occasions when you and I turn to one another to share the liturgical peace of Christ, make it a genuine sign that you and I really do set our hearts completely on this One who comes and stands present among us as we share his Body and Blood, and then as we go back to our lives and try to serve others.