Please listen once again to these words from the gospel: startled; terrified; seeing a ghost; troubled; incredulous; joy; amazed.
And I guess this all happened in about 30 seconds.
Totally overwhelmed, their senses and their thinking couldn’t comprehend all that was crashing in on them. They had no context for this event that was unfolding in their midst this first Easter evening.
Dead people are dead. They don’t somehow become alive again.
All hope of who Jesus was as a Messiah, greeted in Jerusalem with “Hosanna to the son of David,” came crashing to a horrible halt as they dragged him from the garden four days later. Then, they all fled in fear.
No, they couldn’t possibly comprehend what was happening.
And if we honest with ourselves, I don’t think we can either. We hear the gospel proclaimed, but do we really understand? Are we really encountered by these events we hear this (evening) morning as we would if that 9.0 earthquake they keep talking about would take place right now?
I guess it is just human nature that we get numb, used to or bored with the most important event in human history. We somehow just can’t fully – or even partially – grasp its immensity and intensity.
Maybe the only line we can somewhat understand is this, “Have you anything to eat?” How many times as parents of teens have you heard that?
For some reason this Easter season, I have been meditating more than ever on how absolutely incredible and unbelievable the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was for them to comprehend, and honestly for me as well.
As many of you know, Fr. Michael Wagner, who was parochial vicar here at Saint Michael five years ago, collapsed Tuesday morning at the end of Mass and was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma. He suffered a brain aneurysm, a massive brain bleed, and the doctors were unable to do anything to help. The effects were catastrophic and irreversible. He is on life support. His parents and family are distraught as you can imagine.
I share this with you to ask for your prayers for Fr. Michael, his family and the parish families of Holy Rosary and Visitation. I suspect that when Fr. Michael woke up on Tuesday he had no idea of what would happen to him.
When he awakes in the presence of God, I imagine that he will be startled; terrified; troubled; incredulous; joyful; amazed – all in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye.
How can we ever fully comprehend the immense mystery of God?
Yet, yet this is what we are immersed in every time we gather for Holy Eucharist, every time we celebrate Mass. We experience through word and sacrament, the mystery of our salvation, the Paschal mystery of Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection.
We are the ones gathered, like those first followers of Jesus.
We are the ones greeted with “Peace be with you.”
We are the ones asked to look and see his wounds as we gaze at the crucifix as well as share our own wounds and worries with one another.
We are the ones invited to touch him as we reach out to receive his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion.
We are the ones who at the end of Mass are sent forth as witnesses to this good news of the resurrected Jesus.
Like those first disciples, we are called to do three things.
First, share with others what we ourselves have received. It is really only ours if we give it away.
Secondly, that we live out joyfully in our lives the mystery of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
Thirdly, that we show the world what a life conformed to Christ looks like in our daily, ordinary lives so that others can be inspired and invited to become disciples of Jesus as well.
This commission of Jesus is rooted in Holy Eucharist. Without gathering each and every Sunday, we cannot experience the fullness of what those disciples in today’s Gospel experienced.
We need Eucharist. We need one another. We need to be nourished and then commissioned week after week. We need to M.A.S.S.
I have one final word NOT from today’s gospel. It is disruption.
Total disruption is what they experienced. Minor disruption is what we are experiencing beginning this weekend until October 7th.
Let us allow these minor changes in times and places where we pray and celebrate Eucharist, be an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ anew and afresh.