Monday, April 25, 2011

Holding on to the resurrection events

In all the major accounts of the resurrection of Jesus in the gospels, we are not told that he stayed with the witnesses for any prolonged period of time. In fact, in some of them, we are told that he disappeared at the breaking of the bread. This makes it extremely hard for us to pinpoint what it is that defines the resurrection of Jesus. And if it is hard for us to wrap our minds around it, it would be just as difficult for us to make it clear for ourselves what the resurrection would be. After all, we seem to have very little to hold on to, causing our detractors (read atheists) to say that our belief in the resurrection of Jesus is some sort of “pie-in-the-sky”.

Perhaps this is the problem as well as the solution, if “solution” is the correct word to use. Jesus did tell Mary of Magdala in the resurrection account in John’s gospel not to hold on to him. There’s something that doesn’t allow for his witnesses to hold on to him. The human tendency for us is to hold on to as much as we can because we cannot deal with change and transience well. We only need look at the Transfiguration event to see that we all have that human tendency to want to build tents on the mountain top and not ruin a good thing. We resist any call for change and fluidity, but God does not. Yes, we do know that God is immutable, but he is also called the unmoved mover as well.

But we only need to look at life and see that permanence of any sort does not really exist. Our lives are not permanent, our addresses are not permanent, and neither are our jobs and our health. What we need to do is to learn how to cope with change well, and unfortunately, in my experiences with folk who have changes thrust into their lives in unceremonious fashion, change is not only difficult, but extremely frightening as well.

I suspect the reason why the resurrection accounts in the bible are so fluid and fleeting is because our own experiences of resurrections in life have the same character. We are not joyful all the time, neither are we elated, ebullient and exuberant. But having said that, neither are the antitheses of these – our sadness, our mourning, our pains and sorrows are also not permanent. The resurrection joy and energy that Jesus wants to give us is to allow us to be aware of these resurrection moments when they happen in our lives, and to see that these are glimpses of something that have a permanence not in this life, but the next. And what gives us hope always is the chance of a new start.

This is why Jesus always mentions to the disciples – go to Galilee. Why Galilee? It’s not so much a physical place, but a time when it all began; a place where the disciples were first called, a time when fish were caught aplenty and when boats were left on the shore. Jesus wants them to recall and to start over again. That is what reconciliation and forgiveness is about.

We all have our Galilee moments. When friendships falter, when dreams fade and when romance seems to be just a figment of our imagination, we need to go back to Galilee too. It is there that we will see the Lord calling us again – calling us to love in ever expansive ways.


  1. “He is going ahead of you to Galilee ; there you will see him ‘’ – ( Matt 28:7 )
    This was today’s gospel reading too ! But where is my own Galilee ?
    You’re so right – it’s not a spatial thing . My ‘Galilee’ comes through the special but fleeting moments where I am reminded that I have met and will again meet the Risen Lord, provided I am willing to adapt or change so that I can more readily recognize him in my life. Like the Galilee of old where he performed many miracles & healing, my Galilee will be that and much more too if I trust the resurrection of my spirit and have faith that joy and new life comes not only to those who hope and wait in patience but also heeds his command –“ Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,.......”( Matt 28:19-20 ) For to Mary and Martha ( Luke 10:38-42) he only gave the good and the better part......there is still the best .......
    So like the gospel song of old , I will continue to
    “Put your hand in the hand of the man who still the waters,
    Put your hand in the hand of ......................the man from Galilee”
    God bless you Fr.

  2. Just this morning i was reflecting on all tbe little miracles and God moments in my life and it struck me that God gave me these moments to remind me of His existence, His 'realness' in the times i doubted. Thank you, frLuke for the affirmation of Galilee and thank You, Lord for hearing:)


  3. Dear Fr. Luke,

    I often remind myself that whatever joys we experience in this life are only for a moment. They are but faint glimpses of what is to come for those who love God.

    For most part though, life is somewhat of a struggle, and to this we must return with (hopefully) a renewed vigour after having enjoyed the respite that these moments bring.

    There is a world of difference between the "thrill of the moment" and true Christian joy. One is noisy, and the other is quiet and abiding.

    From a song that I love by S C Chapman:

    "What kind of Joy is this?
    Father has promised His children
    What kind of Joy is this?
    Jesus has come to reveal...
    What kind of Joy could stare death in the face,
    And see it as sweet victory
    This is the Joy of a soul that's Forgiven and Free"

    Peace and Joy