Sunday, April 05, 2015

Fearful Yet Overjoyed

You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:22-24

“Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.”  Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. Matthew 28:7-8 


Telling.  The connection of the Resurrection to the Nativity involves the act of proclamation.  Jesus was born but the fact could not survive on its own unless the shepherds, the Magi and others told the story of what happened in Bethlehem to others.  Jesus was born again but the fact wo09uld not make any difference in the world if people did not know. Thus the women, the disciples and others had to tell the story.  The elders did not want word to get out so they bribed the guards just like they tried to pay off Judas.  They were fearful but not overjoyed to hear Jesus’ body was not in the tomb. Yet no amount of money could keep people from telling it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere that Jesus was born again of the Spirit.


What was the Easter experience like?

In one sense, it was like any other encounter with Jesus before the Resurrection.  The women spoke with Jesus.  They touched him, embracing his feet in a gesture that called to mind the anointing of his feet before the Crucifixion.   They listened to him and the command/lesson that was proclaimed.  Then, they followed his instructions.

In another sense, it was unlike anything that came before it.  Even though they had walked the land with Jesus for years, at first, even His closest friends did not recognize Jesus.  Instead of just being overjoyed at seeing their friend who was dead but now lived, they also were fearful because they did not yet really fully understand the meaning of the Easter Resurrection experience.


Touching.  The Easter encounter was not purely mystical.  There was an actual physical interaction just like you can have with the person sitting next to you at Mass during the sign of peace.  There was an actual physical interaction just like you can have when greeting a friend with a hug or handshake.  There was an actual physical interaction just like you can have when meeting someone for the very first time.

The embracing of Jesus’ feet reminds me of two interactions that people have described to me recently.  First, if you are following the progress of Fr. Joe’s recovery on the Caring Bridge page, his family described how he squeezes their hand in prayer and when they read to him the comments and prayers left on the website.  Second, a nurse was describing something that happened when her patient’s water broke.  During the internal exam, the baby in the birth canal actually reached out and grasped her fingers.

Touching is the most basic human interaction.  Before we can see, before we can speak, we reach out to touch one another. Who is reaching out for you this Easter Week?  Who are you reaching out to embrace?

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