|April 20, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 8 • Oakland, CA|
Resurrection always eventually trumps crucifixion
What's good, what's of God, will always at some point be misunderstood, envied, hated, pursued, falsely accused and eventually nailed to some cross. Every body of Christ inevitably suffers the same fate as Jesus: death through misunderstanding, ignorance and jealousy.
And now, after the crucifixion, just when they feel that the dream is dead, that their faith is only fantasy, they are told to go back to the place where it all began: "Go back to Galilee. He will meet you there!"
And they do go back to Galilee, both to the geographical location and to that special place in their hearts where once burned the dream of discipleship. And just as promised, Jesus appears to them.
He doesn't appear exactly as he was before, or as frequently as they would like him to, but he does appear as more than a ghost and a memory. The Christ that appears to them after the resurrection is in a different modality, but he's physical enough to eat fish in their presence, real enough to be touched as a human being, and powerful enough to change their lives forever.
Ultimately that's what the resurrection asks us to do: To go back to Galilee, to return to the dream, hope, and discipleship that had once inflamed us but has now been lost through disillusionment.
This parallels what happens on the road to Emmaus in Luke's gospel, where we are told that on the day of the resurrection, two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem towards Emmaus, with their faces downcast.
An entire spirituality could be unpackaged from that simple line: For Luke, Jerusalem means the dream, the hope, and the religious center from which all is to begin and where ultimately, all is to culminate. And the disciples are "walking away" from this place, away from their dream, towards Emmaus (Emmaus was a Roman Spa), a place of human comfort, a Las Vegas or Monte Carlo.
Since their dream has been crucified, the disciples are understandably discouraged and are walking away from it, towards some human solace, despairing in their hope: "But we had hoped!"
They never get to Emmaus. Jesus appears to them on the road, reshapes their hope in the light of their disillusionment and turns them back towards Jerusalem.
That is one of the essential messages of Easter: Whenever we are discouraged in our faith, whenever our hopes seem to be crucified, we need to go back to Galilee and Jerusalem, that is, back to the dream and the road of discipleship that we had embarked upon before things went wrong. The temptation of course, whenever the kingdom doesn't seem to work, is to abandon discipleship for human consolation, to head off instead for Emmaus, for the consolation of Las Vegas or Monte Carlo.
But, as we know, we never quite get to Las Vegas or Monte Carlo. In one guise or another, Christ always meets us on the road to those places, burns holes in our hearts, explains our latest crucifixion to us, and sends us back - and to our abandoned discipleship. Once there, it all makes sense again.
(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and author, is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.)
|Copyright © 2015 The Catholic Voice, All Rights Reserved. Site design by Sarah Kalmon-Bauer.|