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Parish Life blog: A time of shadows

Fr Andrew Hamilton |  04 April 2018

Meditation around a fire - Premasagar - flickr.comIn Sunday’s Gospel for the Third Sunday after Easter, Luke describes the last appearance of Jesus to his disciples after his Resurrection.

We normally think of the Resurrection as a time when the mood shifts decisively after people hear that Jesus has risen. It is all away with sin and sorrow, and in with generosity and hope. A time of unstinted celebration.

Today’s story is full of shadows. Even though Jesus’ disciples have heard that Jesus had appeared to Simon, and more recently to two travellers, they are off balance and think he is a ghost. Jesus has to eat with them to convince them he is real, and even then they are all over the place. Jesus has to spell out the connection between the tortured death that still haunts them and his rising from the dead. Only then can he give them their mission of spreading the Good News.

The mood of the Gospel matches that of today’s church and world. We too may have heard that Jesus rose from the dead, but our hope that Jesus’ rising has made a difference to us is often stretched tight. All the signposts in the world, locally and internationally, may seem to be pointing away from happiness to brutality, division, self-interest and isolation.

In the church, too, the signposts may seem to have swung back from reconciliation and serene faith in the Gospel to shame, betrayal, self-interest, desertion and cowardice by the gate keepers, and mediocrity. If we sense that these things have won the battle with reconciliation, our hope in Christ will be a hope against hope. The power and even the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection come under heavy pressure.

We are then in the same position with the disciples at the beginning of today’s Gospel story, the leaderless mob who had fled. We seem far from those to whom Jesus had appeared. We then ask how can we, who are so divided and drowning in our troubles, communicate to the world the Gospel of reconciliation through the risen Jesus. This mood on the edge of discouragement is familiar to all who care for and accompany people who are disadvantaged in our society. The bad news often seems to run swifter than good news.

 The disciples in the Gospel had heard rumours of a rising from the dead, they had seen a vision of the risen Jesus, but even that vision battled with their gloom. Ultimately, however, the presence of the Risen Jesus and the assurance of God’s love for each person, no matter how desperate their situation, led them to share their joy with others. That is Christ’s invitation to us today.


Image: Meditation around the fire –


Topic tags: ourrelationshipwithgod, thecatholictradition, scriptureandjesus

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