Some years ago I heard a homily on Easter Sunday that began with a line that stays with me still. The priest said, "None of us has trouble believing in the Crucifixion; we know that humans do terrible things. But we have such a hard time believing in the Resurrection, forgetting, perhaps, the astonishing things that God can do."
The Gospel begins with a scene that feels very familiar to me and perhaps to everyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one – sitting together among family or friends, collecting like precious treasure the shared moments of life which feel so scattered in the harsh reality of death. Bound by their experience and love for Jesus, how comforting it must have felt for the disciples to recall every detail of His fleeting life, and how pressing the need to preserve the memory of the journey they traveled together so it would not be lost forever.
The disciples’ hearts must have almost stopped when, lost in a reverie of the past, Jesus literally stands before them, wishing them "peace," allowing them to touch his flesh, asking them for nourishment for his body! This is neither a distant God nor a dead man walking. This is a God of life, love and incredible intimacy. This is Jesus among us, compelling us not to look backward or toward the sky for God, but to look to the One who is in our midst, to the Jesus right before our eyes who is wounded, hungry and battered but who can also rise victorious to a new life.
Easter Sunday, of course, has passed, but Resurrection remains, and today’s readings for me are a reminder that, whether we can believe it or not, God’s astonishing work continues and we are today’s witnesses to the transforming power of His love.
Nancy Nickel the director of communications at the Passionist Development Office and she lives in Chicago.