Acts 4:32-35 / 1 Jn 5:1-6 / Jn 20:19-31
A man bought the very last seat for the Superbowl. It was a rotten seat, closer to the blimp than to the field, but early in the first quarter, he noticed an empty seat on the 50 yard line. He scrambled down and somewhat furtively sat in the seat. “Excuse me,” he asked, “is anyone sitting here?”
“No,” said the man on his right.
“That’s incredible. Who in his right mind would pass up a seat like this for the Superbowl?”
“Well, actually,” said the man, “the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to be here with my dear wife, but she passed away. This is the first Superbowl in twenty years that we haven’t been together.”
“How sad!” said the other fellow. “But couldn’t you find someone to come with you, a relative or a close friend?”
“No,” said the man, “they’re all at the funeral!”
+ + +
That fellow was missing something — in the head and the heart — and he didn’t even notice. It happens all the time. It happened to the apostles.
For three years, Jesus had tried in hundreds of different ways to prepare them to face his death and not be afraid of what came next. Think of all the miracles: Raising Lazarus from the tomb, silencing the storm at sea, feeding the 5000, healing countless lepers. All that and so much more should have made them confident that Jesus was bigger than death and that death would have no final power over him. But it didn’t work that way.
On Easter morning Peter and John had seen the empty tomb and Mary Magdalene had talked with Jesus nearby. But still they didn’t get it. Paralyzed with fear and despairing of the future, they hid in a locked and darkened room and did absolutely nothing.
And so, on Easter night, Jesus came to them and tried yet again to free them from their fears. “Here,” he said, “look at my wounds. Touch them. It is I: Jesus. I’m not a ghost. I’m alive, and whoever believes in me, even though he die, will live with me forever. So don’t ever be afraid again!”
Jesus has spoken those very words to each one of us. But have we heard him in our hearts? The patterns of our lives can give us an answer: Are we serene, hopeful, and of good spirit even when our troubles come in large doses? Sometimes we are, but often we’re not. So how deeply do we really believe in the Resurrection and what it promises us?
What stories do our faces tell? Stories of crushed spirits or frightened hearts? Hearts untouched by our risen Lord whom we haven’t dared to trust or hope in? Sometimes that’s what our faces reveal. Isn’t it a mystery how many sad and grouchy faces find their way into churches? How can that be if we really believe Jesus is risen?
Remember the old story about the grandpa who asked his grouchy twelve year old granddaughter, “Are you happy, dear?”
“Oh yes, grandpa,” she replied.
“Then why don’t you tell your face!”
+ + +
Jesus is risen, to walk with us till our journey is done and then to carry us home. If we dare to trust him, every day of our journey can be a happy one – no matter how rocky the road. That’s the wonderful life God wants for us here and now. So why not tell your face and your heart!