On this third Sunday of Easter, we continue to hear Gospel accounts of Jesus’ appearances following his Resurrection. In each account Jesus greets his disciples with the words, “Peace be with you.” Peace is their most obvious and pressing need. They have witnessed the death of someone they dearly loved.
Here is this account, two of the disciples recount a touching story of PEACE invading their lives. They were taking a Sunday stroll – well, a seven-mile walk – chatting about the events of the last several days. Suddenly a stranger slips into their midst. Now, the Jewish custom of the day required that they invite the stranger to join them for a meal. In this case, the invitation included an overnight’s rest. Later they realized Who had broken bread in their company. Can’t you see Jesus’ smiling to himself in delight in picturing his friends’ sudden realization who they had been talking with!? Now this friends realized that their hearts had been afire as they listened to him break open the Scriptures with him. What a Lectio experience!
We believe God is all around us: God is in nature, God is here with you and me now. But do we really believe that God – in the person of Jesus – will drop into our company and chat with us? That every person manifests a virtue of Jesus that I need in my life. One may be the patience of Christ, another the spirit of helpfulness, or a positive attitude, the ability to turn strangers into friends, a secret friend that does your daily chore, a soothing voice, a listening ear. Look around the room: where do you see Jesus looking back at you. How interesting that we all see the faces but each one sees the very virtue she needs to make her life whole. And, how puzzling it can be when two people share an experience, know the same person, were there when “it” happened but have two distinct, often opposite, memories.
You know what it’s like, many years after childhood, at family gatherings,… your siblings’ memory of particular event can be worlds apart. And, what about community memories! I once heard Sister Helen talk about something that happened to her … I feel certain that was MY experience.
Let me tell you about an event that happened on a Sunday afternoon many Springs ago. Kevin was walking home through the park after having attended Sunday Mass and CCD class. He stopped to pluck a flower for his mom and watched a butterfly flit from plant to plant…. He stood quietly watching a woodpecker drill a hole in a tree. All the while, he couldn’t stop thinking about the Bible lesson for that day. What impressed him the most was when the teacher said, “You will find the risen Jesus in every one you meet.”
As he continued through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a bench. She looked lonely and hungry. So he sat down next to her, took out the coveted chocolate bar he had been saving. He offered some to the lady who accepted it with a beautiful smile. They sat together in silence, for a long time, just smiling at each other. As Kevin was leaving, he had gone but a short distance when he ran back to the bench, and gave the woman a big hug.
When he arrived home, his mother asked, “What’s making you smile so happily today?” (He said,) “I shared my chocolate bar with Jesus. You know, he has the most beautiful smile in the world.”
Meanwhile, the old woman returned to the little apartment where she lived with her sister. Her sister remarked, “You seem really happy today. “I am, I’ve been in the park. Jesus shared his chocolate bar with me. And, you know, he looks a lot younger than I expected.”
That’s the lesson in today’s gospel – we will meet and experience the risen Jesus in unexpected places and persons. Our only expectation can be “He will show up!”
Pooh and Piglet were taking their evening walk. For a long time they walked in the kind of silence good friends share. Finally, Piglet asks, “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast? And what do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen to me today?”
When or where will we meet the Risen Christ today. What we know is that He will show up. Take delight in his revelation! In the words of our Responsorial Psalm: “Know that the Lord does wonders for his faithful ones. God puts gladness into my heart.”
What virtue of Jesus do you see reflected back to you in person of the persons you meet?
Have a good week. We long for the day we can share a hug … here’s a virtual hug for you …. Stay safe …