The Season of the Word of God
It is a challenge to celebrate Easter for 50 days. It is the Scriptures, especially the gift of the Easter lectionary that enables us to keep the celebration new and alive, relevant and Christ-centered. We can go to this well to drink, not having to drink it all; but drink enough to be refreshed and know that when we return to the well more refreshment awaits us.
Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP, former editor of Magnificat, offers an interesting approach to the Sundays of Easter. He suggests they help us to overcome our resistance to the Resurrection.
Luke’s gospel today tells of the importance of the Word of God. The gospel opens as the disciples of Emmaus are recounting what had taken place on the walk with Jesus and had set their hearts on fire; how he interpreted for them every passage of Scripture that referred to him. Recently there was a series on TV by National Geographic about Jesus. The approach of the show to talk about Jesus is very different than the approach of the gospels. They go to the Old Testament. Much like what Jesus said to the disciples of Emmaus we hear again today, ‘everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and psalms had to be fulfilled’. Then Jesus opens their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures. Today’s reading from Acts, also written by Luke, bears this same importance of Scripture as Peter preaches in Solomon’s Portico.
When the risen Lord appears we see today, terror and shock, despite the words of greeting, ’Peace’. They fear a ghost. The presence of Jesus these days is a bit confusing. He is never back with his friends in the same ‘relaxed’ way that we can imagine earlier in the gospels. He eats fish to show that he is not a ghost, but still, Our Lord just appears, omitting doors! The most ordinary gathering may be the breakfast at the lakeside in John, but as they join Jesus no one dares to ask ‘who are you?’ because they know it is Jesus. Not too relaxed. There is the important conversation with Peter, but we hear of nothing with his other friends. When Mary Magdalene cannot hold Jesus, it is often interpreted as a way of saying that the old ways of being with Jesus are gone. It will be the Risen Lord that we will come to enjoy. But that seems to evoke a sadness. Fr. John Lynch, SJ in his ‘Woman Wrapped in Silence’ suggests that Mary the Mother of Jesus feels this emptiness after the Resurrection. The good days of Nazareth would never be again although Jesus had risen.
But with the Scriptures, we can sit and talk and listen to Jesus. He is risen, we are not. But our Lord is present to us in the Word of God. May this be the gift that keeps on giving: joy, life, hope, and the presence of Jesus to us during the Easter season.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.