Sometimes the Easter story is just plain unbelievable to me.
Doubts invade my prayer and distract me from the whole point of the story— of the entire core of my faith. Questions multiply in my mind exponentially. Why did some people recognize Jesus while others didn’t? Why is the Easter story so different in each Gospel? How did it really happen? Did it even happen at all? What if the whole “resurrection thing” is just metaphor? What if Jesus didn’t really come back in his body, but people just explained it that way because they had trouble understanding what they were feeling after Jesus was killed?
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?”
I guess I’m a lot like Jesus’ friends who had trouble believing their eyes, who remained cynical even when God himself spoke directly to them. Forget “you gotta see it to believe it” or “you had to be there,” sometimes we don’t even believe the goodness that is right in front of our faces.
“Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
Maybe I have Easter questions because I am feeling desperate for a big, dramatic miracle. I want some happy headlines that restore all my faith that goodness is the strongest force. Terrorists repent and destroy all weapons. Cancer cure available for free to all in need. Malnourished children restored to perfect health. Billionaires give everything to the poor. Gun shops go out of business.
Apparently I have high expectations and big dreams. Maybe the truth is that I wouldn’t even recognize a miracle if it happened right in front of my face. Perhaps I need someone to show me what’s real and how God’s masterpieces surround me.
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
Yes! God’s beauty is all around me, all the time, in the ordinary things. I don’t have to look too far to find something beautiful. I can easily experience wonder and awe for the goodness of God’s creation. My students are listening and working hard. Buds are opening and flowers are blooming. The food pantry is well stocked. The sun is shining and the sky is a beautiful blue. Life is good!
… they were … incredulous for joy and were amazed …
So much goodness is happening around me, but, how am I part of this? Jesus is God, so above me, so beyond me. I am small. I am nothing. I am just a person with very human needs and wants.
… he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
And he is human too! He shows up, announces “Peace,” and then asks his friends for a snack! This is the Resurrected Jesus I can get behind, that I can believe in–the teacher who pauses in the profound, steps into the ordinary, and asks his pals for some food. Not only is he alive and human, but he’s a beggar too!
Now I know–or at least I am starting to get it: Easter is actually an ordinary thing.
Even though the first Easter Sunday changed everything, the Truth that must inform my daily living is the part of the story where Jesus models how to be fully human. Easter may not end all human suffering, but it should change how we are with each other. Easter is a human thing, a holy and profound moment that is just as basic as showing up uninvited and asking for a snack!
This puts me in mind of my favorite Easter poem, Updike’s “Seven Stanzas at Easter.” Well, it might be the only Easter poem I know, but I really like it: https://sbhebert.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/updikes-seven-stanzas-at-easter-some-thoughts/ (I did not read the commentary following the poem on this blog.)
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