Monday, April 24, 2017

Jesus is still showing himself under different forms in our lives. We just need new eyes.

I recently came across a rather interesting social experiment that was recorded on video which was created by Unicef last year to bring help to children living in poverty to live a better life.  It showed how adults treated an apparently homeless girl differently, depending on how she was dressed. 

The first part of the experiment saw the 6-year-old girl neatly dressed but alone, looking somewhat lost.  Within minutes, passers approached her who enquired if they could help her. 

The next part of the experiment saw this same child dressed and made up to look like a homeless person, no longer in decent and clean clothing.  Looking scruffy and like a vagrant, she was now ignored by passers by, and when she entered a café, one customer even told the café employees to remove this child from its premises. 

Apparently, the child was very traumatized by the experiment and it had to be stopped midway as she was too shaken by what she went through. 

The post resurrection events that are depicted in the Gospels give us very sketchy details about how the resurrected Lord actually looked like.  His qualities are more telling than how he physically appeared.  In many of the appearances, we are told about what the resurrected Lord did.  In quite a few of them, we are told that he either ate something or prepared something for others to eat.  Though he was the same person, he was also not immediately recognized.

Scripture scholars have long since speculated on the nature of the resurrected Jesus.  Being able to walk through closed doors could allude to the possibility that the resurrected Lord has no physical body, but only pure spirit.  However, he is often depicted doing a very physically human thing as well – eating, as well as offering food to those he showed himself to.  Not only that, we are very clearly told that he still bears the scars and the wounds that had caused him his death. 

Mark’s gospel articulates that he showed himself “under another form”. 

Why this subterfuge?  Is Jesus trying to play a game with his disciples?  Is there a point to all this appearances in different forms?  If so, what could it be?

The Gospel is called the Good News for a whole host of reasons.  The primary one is that we are loved and saved not on our own merits and skill sets, but because our God is a god of love and mercy.  That he had desired to save us by taking on the sins of the world is something that is so beautiful and deep is also something that is a mystery in itself. 

But there are multifarious dimensions to the Gospel being good.  In relation to the post resurrection appearances of Jesus, there is a hidden goodness as well to the way Jesus seems to go about undetected as he stands among the crowds who had previously known about him.  He is not confined to any particular form but his essence is still the same.  To the many whom he allowed to recognize him, it became a continual opportunity for conversion, as we are told that the many who did see him were “added to the number”. 

The Christian life constantly keeps one on our toes and alert to the ways in which God is revealing himself to us as well.  In this way, the Christian life is dynamic.  Each encounter with another human being ought to be seen as an opportunity to see some dimension of Christ, and the way that St Theresa of Calcutta reached out to the sick and the most impoverished often had her saying that she saw Christ in them.  This becomes the daily challenge of the Christian life. 

If we are indeed Easter people, our eyes then have one shared requirement – to see beyond the physical.  Our prejudices and biased opinions and judgments of others are often the first and largest obstacles from being able to see that at the heart of each person is an essence and a dignity that is godly.  Appearances are often deceiving, and as the saying goes, even salt can look like sugar.

In most experiments, there should always be a “control”.  Controls ensure that the effects of variables are minimized other than the independent variable itself.  To do so increases the results to be seen as reliable.  It was a pity that the Unicef social experiment didn’t have such a control.  What would a control in such an experiment be like?  I would conjecture that it would be the same girl, dressed differently on both occasions, encountering a blind person.  If he or she had the same kind of concern, compassion and charity to the girl regardless of her appearance, it would reveal something remarkable and beautiful – that at the heart of our biasedness and prejudice, we have very faulty visions. 

1 comment:

  1. "........a hidden goodness ........Jesus ...................undetected as he stands among the crowds ............He is not confined to any particular form but his essence is still the same. " -

    I don't know why I felt drawn - especially to these words when I read through the post - a second, then a third time!

    That night prior to our meditation session,we listened to a 6 minute talk on why silence is critical to meditation. Fr Laurence said that on many occasions Jesus withdrew & spent the whole night alone, praying to his Father .......(Lk 5:16, 6:12)

    This quiet or silence is crucial for a "crossing over " into the presence of Love - where words become irrelevant, redundant.

    And somehow I felt that the main reason why Jesus is undetected & hidden from us is because we do not truly seek Him with our hearts. He cannot be seen , heard or felt on demand! Our incessant striving & struggling to find meaning, happiness , perfection - ironically, pushes Him into the shadow, hidden
    He is that elusive "hidden goodness" that we seek coz in our deepest self we are pining for the wholeness that only Love can complete.

    So it was with some insight, I realized that the sharing of one of our neophytes recently affirmed this. He had taken to attending the first mass on Sunday as his family commitment made it rarely possible for him to join his Rcia group for the Breaking of the Word at a later mass or even the Catechumen Retreat. So though we could see that he has a budding faith he felt something missing - he has not had an encounter with Jesus -however brief . This was his silent desire?

    Then at one mass - he related how at the moment of sharing the sign of peace - when everyone was just "turning round & bobbing their heads" ( using his words) in the accepted older lady looked him in the eye and wished him peace. In returning the gesture, he said he felt that she was genuinely wishing him , wanting him to have the peace of Christ. And all at once - he was truly comforted, consoled - at peace, a peace the world cannot give.

    I was expecting him to share some momentous moments - perhaps at Consecration or at Communion but was delighted that as always -the Lord knows what is good for each one of us, how delicate an initiate' s soul is & so He dispenses just so perfectly the right dosage.

    So, yes I do agree with the title of your post - Jesus is still showing himself under different forms in our lives

    God bless u, Fr


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