All of us have our stories. The best ones rarely are about times when everything went smoothly – no, we tell stories about mistakes and crises, about clumsiness and human error. And everybody tells the story from his or her own perspective, so that often we wonder whether the tellers were all at the same place at the same time! This gospel is no different. Matthew tells only of the resurrected Christ meeting the Eleven on the mountain, where all doubted. Mark’s story is that Jesus appears to “the eleven” at table and rebukes all of them for their lack of faith. Luke’s story has the two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus return to the apostles in Jerusalem, where Jesus appears to all thirteen – all of whom were terrified. In all accounts, Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” Only in John are there locked doors. Only in John is Thomas missing, necessitating a second appearance.
And only in John did Jesus give the ten the Holy Spirit and send them out – what were they doing still behind locked doors a week later?
On many levels, the details don’t matter – the point is that the resurrected Jesus returned to his friends, bringing peace and reassurance and commissioning. At the same time, the details give us insight into the humanness of the followers. Even in Gospel times, vulnerability wasn’t highly rated.
One detail to notice in every account is that the resurrected Jesus has visible wounds. Resurrection comes at a price. It always follows the cross, it carries indelible marks. Resurrection does not negate suffering. Suffering is part of every story.
We who have been baptized into the one Body of Christ are constantly being shown the wounds of Christ. We are witnesses to horrible atrocities against all of creation: our waters and mountains, our forests and plains, our human brothers and sisters around the globe. Some are blatant; others more subtle. War and poverty, racism and greed, human-induced climate change, selfishness and egotism, human trafficking and various phobias, 65 million displaced persons around the globe, and so much more. All these stories invite us back into the atmosphere of today’s first reading from Acts: how are we believers pooling our possessions – our faith, our strength, our leadership, our influence, our relationships – to assure that all have what they need? Such concern for one another is apparently as counter-cultural in much of our world today as it was for the early Christians.
We have much to learn about discipleship. We have much to learn about loving one another as God has loved us. We have much to learn about being one human community, one creation of a loving God who longs for unity. With us, as with Thomas, Jesus the Christ has infinite patience and mercy, waiting for us, as for Thomas, to choose: belief or disbelief. No pressure, only opportunity. No seduction, only invitation. No fear, only peace.
We are invited into resurrection, over and over again. How is our story different because we know we have been redeemed? Resurrection, if we truly open ourselves to it, makes us more truly the selves God created us to be: open, inclusive, generous, loving.
We don’t have two thousand years of tradition to give us answers to current crises. We have only faith and one another. How will our story of discipleship be told to future generations?
Peace be with you. Love one another – ALL of one another. Go out and make our resurrected God visible!
Jeannie Masterson, CSJ
Jeannie Masterson CSJ lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and serves on the leadership team of the Congregation of St. Joseph, a congregation formed nine years ago by gathering seven founding groups of Sisters of St. Joseph in the midwest. She has a Masters degree in Spirituality from Fordham University, and has ministered in education, vocations ministry, pastoral care, health attention for the working uninsured, and elected leadership.