April 15, 2018: Third Sunday of Easter
Reading: Luke 24: 35 – 48
While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
Of all the “appearances” of Jesus after his death, this account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is my favorite. If the encounter happened today, I think the two disciples would say to Jesus, “You kidding me?” At least that’s what I want to say to Jesus every time I hear this gospel proclaimed.
How Jesus could even begin to ask, “Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts?” Could it be that these followers of Jesus had just witnessed Jesus’ death and had just begun to hear incredible, unbelievable tales of his return to life?
Could it be that these two disciples had never seen anyone die, be buried and then show up again with “flesh and bones”?
Could it be that, even though Jesus had told his followers over and over again what to expect of him, of his mission, of the path his life would take, his followers even then were saying “You kidding me?” Love your enemy? Love the prodigal son and the woman accused of adultery? Destroy this temple and I will rebuild in three days? “You kidding me?”
Now, meeting Jesus, not a ghost, the disciples know Jesus wasn’t kidding them. Not about one thing. Now these followers of Jesus know his teachings are true. Love our enemies. Love the prodigal sons and daughters. Love those who abuse love and their bodies. Love! Love! Love!
You kidding me, Jesus? No? Then let me let go of what I thought you would be like, how you would live and die and live again. Let me find a way to touch you and see you. Let me hold out my hands and open my heart to receive the gift of peace you offer to me again and again.