Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday word, 19 Apr 15

Prominent Features
Third Sunday of Easter B (19 Apr 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The fifty-day Easter festival allows us to fall deeper into the mystery of our crucified and risen Messiah. Mystery aptly names Jesus, our crucified and risen Messiah. Christian mystery is first of all a person, Jesus. As a person Christian mystery is no problem to solve. Risen Jesus lives more powerfully today by the power of his Spirit. I’d like to reflect with you on risen Jesus present with and for us by looking at three of scripture’s prominent features: empty tomb; appearances; and eating together.

An empty tomb plays prominently to signify God raised [Jesus] from the dead. God did not resuscitate Jesus’ corpse. Resuscitation brings back to life for a time someone who had slipped away from life. Resuscitation isn’t resurrection.

Resurrection is transformation—an astonishing one! In raising Jesus from death God worked in and beyond time and history. Beyond history is beyond human knowing. The women who came early to his tomb illustrated that: they…puzzl[ed] over not finding Jesus’ body. For know-ing beings not knowing disturbs greatly. In their confusion [angelic messengers]…said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here…he has been raised.1 Raised equals living.

An empty tomb is not all. Also prominent are appearances of risen Jesus. One result of his risen transformation is that people did not immediately recognize the living one present to them. The two disciples who walked with risen Jesus Easter afternoon recognized him in the breaking of bread.2 As they recounted it to the apostles and those with them Jesus appeared to them.

Jesus showed them his hands and his feet.3 He offered another side of his presence. His presence could elude recognition yet he could be known by an action—breaking bread as Jesus did. Risen Jesus showed bodily presence:“Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

The feelings and reactions of the disciples are equally important: startled and terrified and incredulous for joy and amazed. Present to them was Jesus; his bodily presence was transformed: equally real and different from theirs. Their feelings and reactions communicate they were in the presence of God. Scripture reported—as do people today—that being touched by God can be at once awesome, even worrisome or terrifying, and inviting.

Eating together is a third prominent feature of risen Jesus’ presence. 4 Risen Jesus taught his disciples that by communal meals guided and shaped by his spirit he would continue to be present to them and to all who would follow their witness. We call it Jesus’ sacramental presence. All Christian worship, all Christian living flow from the eucharistic meal and return to it.5

Today’s gospel echoes a Catholic conviction: risen Jesus is present as we dine together here. “From that time [of the disciples]…the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery: reading those things which were in all the scriptures concerning him, celebrating the eucharist in which ‘the victory and triumph of his death are again made present,’ and at the same time giving thanks to God for his unspeakable gift in Christ Jesus, in praise of his glory, through the power of the Holy Spirit.”6

You and I live in the presence of risen Jesus. Risen Jesus is no dead person of the past; he is our living Messiah, Lord and Savior. We will never understand the core of our faith this side of heaven. We know that is true when we take long, loving looks at our close relationships: dear friends, spouses and family members remain mysteries to us. Yet they are real and really present with us and for us. So much more true that is of our risen Jesus!

How may we profit from noticing these prominent features? An emptiness we feel when it comes to Jesus may result because we don’t seek him as he truly is, our living Lord. In other areas of our lives we may let surface appearances distract us from what is more real. We allow both when we don’t put our hearts into the sacred meal that keeps him present to us and makes us more present to him.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the disciples to welcome you and present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; ask Jesus to open your mind to understand the Scriptures and others’ testimony to him.
  • Name what holds you back from feeling and acting risen Jesus really walks with you; then ask him to transform it into grace so you will feel him present.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. To request our daily bread is hollow until we give our risen Lord what keeps us from feeling and recognizing him present with us and for us.yourself to rest in the presence of our triune God.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Luke 24.3-6.
  2. The passage immediately before today’s gospel.
  3. Also see John 20.20.
  4. Acts 10.41. Jesus had promised they would also eat and drink in his kingdom.
  5. “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.” Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Liturgy, 10.
  6. Constitution on the Liturgy, 6.

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