This second Sunday after Easter places before us a smorgasbord of spiritual realities to nourish, strengthen, console, and challenges us. There is not one sermon, blog or book that can ever adequately convey all that is both "hidden and revealed" in this Gospel. All I can do within the limitations of my vocabulary is present for further reflection some of the realities that have nourished, strengthened, consoled and challenged me.
Where does one begin? In the beginning of the Gospel we are placed in a room with the followers of the now deceased Jesus of Nazareth. They are a dispirited, fear-full bunch. They are hiding away for fear that what happened to Jesus was waiting for them as well. They must also have to face feelings of guilt and shame resulting from their lack of being a supportive presence for their Master. What happened could not come as a surprise, Jesus, The Prophet and their teacher spent many hours preparing them for the terrifying events they witnessed and were invited to participate in. From what the Gospels reveal to us most of those closest to Him were found wanting. One was a betrayer, another a denier and the rest were scattered in fear. There were only a few who stepped forward and presented themselves as supporters of The Crucified One. Just His mother Mary, the beloved disciple, John, and a few more women who had the courage to stand by the cross and witnessed the death, of their Lord and Master. They were in that place we all journey to again and again, the dead end. Everything is lost. There is no hope on the horizon to energize us. We are existing not living. Just hanging on with our fingernails. When I reach that "dead end place," I remind myself of the words Rahner penned some time ago. God speaking to you and me, "I am the blind alleys of all your paths for when you no longer know how to go any further you have reached Me though you are not aware of it." Is that not exactly what happened to the disciples and happens to us as well? When they were at their lowest of low point of existence it was then The Risen Christ appears.
What was going through their minds? We can only guess. Let us place ourselves in their shoes or should I say, sandals? Oh! Oh! look Who is here. Where did He come from. The doors are locked even bolted yet here He is. Now we are in for it. Were we not warned about what exactly was to happen. He told us of His suffering and death, three times and still we were caught by surprise. I wonder how Peter is feeling? He said that he was prepared to die for his Master. When the chips were down, he chickened out. He even denied that he even knew Jesus, three times. Poor guy, I am glad I am not in his sandals. Okay let's take a deep breath and see what happens. Listen He is speaking to us. Let’s listen.
When the risen Christ speaks there are no "I told you so." "Peter do you remember I told you that you were going to deny Me? Was I right?" There are no recriminations, no payback, no shaming, no guilt trip just the simple word, Shalom. In that so called simple word The Risen Christ said everything. Shalom just does not mean peace it is so, so much more. There are layers upon layers of meaning to this Hebrew word.
(To be continued)