The Gospel gives us a number of accounts where Jesus meets the disciples after the resurrection. The response of surprise, fear, initial lack of recognition and then subsequent ‘aha! moment’ of recognition are quite common. They did not expect the empty grave, they did not expect to meet Jesus again, not so soon; even though He told them about it, they could not understand. And who could blame them, they were grieving. After the night seems long, the light of the dawn will come as a surprise and our eyes will need to get used to it. I have never experienced the polar night, when night or twilight lasts for days or months on end, but I presume that in the hearts and minds of those who loved Jesus, the news of the resurrection must have been somewhat like a new dawn after a very long polar night.
I think each of the encounters where we read that Jesus meets his disciples, both women and men, are beautiful in their own way. They portray how for us on the human level taking in the story of resurrection is going to be a process. Maybe that is why the Church gives us fifty days of the Easter season to journey with the risen Lord, to get accustomed to this new reality of life, and to hopefully let this reality transform us ever so little year after year.
What is your favourite resurrection story? I would encourage each of us to spend some time with that story, by reading it a few times, pondering on it, and taking time to prayerfully imagine our own place in the story. What would Jesus tell you, and me, if He came to us today? The risen Jesus sometimes met the disciples behind the closed doors, so if He chose to do the same to us what insight would that bring us? I will not answer those questions, for they can only be answered in the silence of our hearts, but I do wish us all that Jesus may encounter us in a new way this Eastertide, bringing us new life, filled with peace and hope.
Happy Easter to you All on behalf of the Church’s Ministry of Healing: Ireland!