Thanks to the hundreds of you who attended our Send-off Celebration at St. Clare on Saturday (and hundreds that attended in spirit). We'll post some photos soon. In the meantime here is the reflection I shared on John 20:19-22 as some of you have requested it.
I want to take just a few moments to reflect on the presence of the Divine in relationship to the Gospel of St. John that Drew just proclaimed for us.
In particular, how is it that we come to recognize God in our midst?
No doubt the Sisters of Charity, Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and other women religious would remind us that a few verses ahead this passage, the risen Christ is revealed first to a woman – Mary of Magdala. Yet even this exemplar of womankind is herself slow to recognize Jesus; mistaking Him first for a grave-robber then for a gardener. It isn’t until Jesus calls her by name that Mary sees Him for who He is.
Then there are the disciples cowering in fear. Jesus offers them a simple greeting, blessing of peace and the wounds of His hands and His side as visual proof that it is indeed Him, risen to new life. A few verses following our reading, Thomas, ever-the-cynic, requires even tactile, palpable evidence that Jesus is precisely who He says, with the opportunity to touch Christ’s still-open wounds.
But even the indisputable, divine presence of the risen Christ standing before them is not enough to assuage their fears and anxieties. It isn’t until Jesus breathes upon the disciples that they are animated by the Holy Spirit to unlock their physical and metaphorical doors and to re-engage with the world around them.
Here is the paradox of this passage – that the most impressive and persuasive case for Christ’s divinity, His resurrection from the dead, is revealed to and recognized by the disciples in the most familiar and human of ways. His first-name embrace and simple greetings among friends. His vulnerability to admit, expose, share, and be touched in His broken, wounded, and scarred places. A deep, diaphragmatic breath in… and slow, purse-lipped expiration out - empowering the disciples to be born for a life more fully lived.
Instead of well-tuned trumpet blasts, the tightly choreographed descent of cherubs, lightning strikes or bellowing voices from on high, God reveals the risen Son with a first-name called, a friendly blessing shared, a wound to be tended to, and a breath exhaled.
Where are you looking to encounter the Divine Creator, the Transcendent Truth and the Life-animating Spirit? Do you find these in a friendly embrace, a simple blessing, a vulnerable imperfection, a single, life-sustaining breath? I hope this would be so.
And so until our next embrace, we ask for your blessing over our wounded and vulnerable family, as we seek the gift of new, life-giving breath.
Peace be with you.
Peace, be with you.