Living the Gospel – Third Sunday of Easter – April 15, 2018

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Behind locked doors

And Jesus said to me, “Why are you troubled?” While I believed he was a spirit that I was imagining, my mind was more caught up in his question. Why shouldn’t I be troubled? My world was falling apart. My dreams had failed me – or perhaps it was me who had failed. My future was dark. I could see no joyful hope coming. But he looked me in the eye and said “Peace, my child. Peace be with you.” He took my hand in his scarred one. Suddenly my concerns seemed petty; I had suffered so little compared to him. This man (or was he only a figment of my imagination?) who stood there looking into the depths of my heart understood my worries.

I glanced over at my fellow disciples. We were a sorry bunch, terrorized by every stray sound, every clanging pot from the courtyard below, every whispered word we couldn’t quite hear. Hope had been replaced with fear; now we cowered behind locked and barricaded doors. He who had died had just come through those doors to be among us again, offering us peace.

This wasn’t the first appearance of the resurrected Christ. So why was I still so disbelieving, so frightened? My eyes searched for an exit – or at least a rational way to explain what I was seeing. After all, it’s one thing to believe in the afterlife for the spirit, but something else entirely to believe in the resurrection of the earthly body, complete with the wounds of the crucifixion. The apparition asked for a piece of fish, some food to eat. Why? Spirits didn’t eat; only earthly bodies got hungry and needed food. I stared in horrible fascination as the “ghost” of my dead friend actually ate the fish one of the Eleven tentatively handed over to him.

But why should I be so awed? Why would anyone here in this room be? Is it possible that I didn’t want to believe in the resurrection because it flew in the face of “logic”? Or was it more basic – was I afraid to look the Son of God himself in the eye? My sins suddenly seemed very ugly, and I wasn’t sure he could forgive me.

Perhaps it was something more that set my soul trembling. If the earthly body can truly go to heaven and return again to earth, then the realms of heaven and earth had come together. Heaven became reachable for my human body, became as tangible as this resurrected body of Christ that walked into the locked room and ate with me. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that. But I should be. It’s time to face the new reality of heaven touching earth, instead of just paying it lip service, or believing it’s just an event for the distant future.

Linda Crowley