by Trevor Thompson
Director of Pastoral Ministries
Third Sunday of Easter
Over and over we hear stories of our spiritual ancestors who had the resurrection right in front of them, and they couldn’t see it. Remember Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter Jesus in the garden, who thought he was the gardener, until he said her name. The disciples all thought she was hallucinating until he appeared to them in the upper room. Remember last week’s gospel we saw Thomas holding onto his disbelief until Jesus shows up once again, asking Thomas to dispel his doubt by putting his fingers into Jesus’ wounds. And then again in today’s gospel, two heavy-hearted disciples walk and talk with Jesus for miles and still don’t recognize him, until he breaks the bread, blesses it, and gives it to them.
It is clear from these stories that it’s so easy to miss the point, to misinterpret our experience, and to not recognize what’s really going on. Yet, experiencing resurrection seems necessary if we are going to be witnesses. And so Jesus continues to find a way to reveal himself in the midst of our daily lives, meeting us on the way, finding us behind our locked doors and doubts and despondent lives. Although resurrection is not a one-size-fits-all experience, we nevertheless hear today that the transformative, eye-opening experience for the disciples is in the “breaking of the bread.” We might do well to ask ourselves how and where we are experiencing the resurrected Jesus.
For some resurrection comes as light and grace; for others as forgiveness and compassion; for some as beauty and light; and for others as healing and comfort; for some as a warm meal and a new job; and for others as community and prayer and liturgy.
As Director of Pastoral Ministries, I continue to hear stories of people experiencing resurrection in these ways through our ministries here at St. Francis of Assisi. For example, I’ve had recent emails about people finding healing through Stephen Ministry, compassion and comfort in Emmaus Ministry, and community in our Young Adult Ministry.
It’s also the case that once we have experienced the new life that is in Jesus, we often feel compelled to share this new life with others. Therefore, many parishioners give their time, talent, and treasure to our ministries so that we might be the way others experience the resurrection. I can’t help but to think about the financial donations to help with the regional tornado relief or with the disaster in Japan, or the parish delegates leaving today to help with on-going earthquake relief in Haiti, or the many parishioners who visit the children and families in Duke’s Children Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.
How and where might you experience resurrection today?
How and where might you bear witness to others the fruits of this resurrection?