Sunday, April 16, 2017
Sunday Reflection: On Easter
When we read about the end of Jesus’s life in the Gospels, Christians sometimes ignore what happened with the disciples. Maybe we look away because it is so dark: At the time Jesus needed them the most—when he was arrested, tried, and killed-- his disciples “deserted him and fled.” They were not there to console Jesus or intercede when he was tortured. Peter alone was drawn to the trial, but as he waited nearby he famously denied knowing Jesus three times.
But, here is where the example of gentleness enters in. The Gospels contain two fascinating accounts of the resurrected Christ encountering those who abandoned him. If ever there was such a thing as righteous anger, we would expect it to be directed at those who left Jesus in his time in need. That’s not what happens, though. We get gentleness instead.
Mark and Luke tell the story of Jesus falling into conversation with two of his followers, without identifying himself. They are literally walking away from Jerusalem toward another town, Emmaus. When Jesus reveals himself, though, it is not in anger. He explains what happened in Jerusalem, and asks if they have anything to eat. They give him some fish, and he eats it. He walks with them some more, and blesses them.
And what of his closest followers, the 12 apostles (down to 11 after the departure of Judas)? The end of the book of John finds seven of them at the Sea of Galilee, some 100 miles away from Jerusalem. Theirs was a significant abandonment and flight, a walk of several days. And yet Jesus finds them. Once he does, he does not upbraid or embarrass them.
Rather, he finds them fishing in the big water. He calls to them, and they come to the shore. He has made them breakfast, a simple meal of bread and fish. They eat together, and talk. That’s all—just a small, gentle moment.
Often, that is where the truth is found.