THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
“Have you anything here to eat?”
A chief counselor to the Anglo-Saxon king Edwin in 627 once stated:
“The present life of man, O King, seems to me like the swift flight of a sparrow through the great mead-hall wherein you sit at supper in winter; the sparrow flies in one door, and immediately out another, once more into the dark winter. So this life of man appears for a little while, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If, therefore, this new teaching contains something more certain, it seems justly deserving to be followed.”
This “new teaching” he refers to is the very point of today’s gospel. It is a teaching that can be summed up in just a few words: LOVE IS STRONGER THAN DEATH.
All of us at one time or other has asked ourselves questions like: Why is human life so filled with tragedy? Why is there so much suffering in the world?
Even Jesus himself in today’s gospel asks this kind of question of his disciples: “Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts?”
God’s answer to these and so many other questions like them is: Easter.
His answer is that of the women who ran from the tomb yelling at the top of their lungs: “He is risen!” His answer is that of the two men on the road to Emmaus who “recognized him in the breaking of the bread” and rushed back to tell the others. His answer is that of the disciples “who thought they were seeing a ghost.”
As one writer puts it: “The Resurrection of Christ is telling us that in the Great Story Line of History … the Final Judgment has already happened, and it’s nothing to be feared .… God’s Final Judgment is that God will have the last word.”
What’s more is that the last word that God speaks will be this: “victory” – a word that contains the whole meaning of Easter; a word that will designate the ultimate triumph over all suffering and even death itself; a word that will culminate in every tear being wiped away.
Hope, then, is the major plot line in the story of Easter. So, to be a follower of Jesus, the Risen One, means that we are to be people who spread the message of hope wherever we can.
But how do we keep that hope alive?
Jesus tells us how by quietly asking a seemingly strange question: “Have you anything here to eat?”
And then we remember: Meals are where Jesus did most of his teaching. Meals are where he developed his relationship with his followers. Meals are where he healed, where he displayed untold mercy, where he kissed the feet of a sinner.
Meals shared together are what will keep the disciples’ hopes alive – and ours too.
We also remember that Jesus’ last moment with his disciples before he died was spent sharing a meal – a meal he told them to keep having “in memory of me.” We call it the Last Supper. His last moment shared with them before returning to the Father was also spent sharing a meal – and pushing them on to share with others. We call it the Eucharist.
Why a meal? Because that’s where we get the food that will nourish us, the energy that will renew our sense of purpose, and the drive that will empower us to return to our little lives enriched with the conviction that love really is stronger than death.
Easter convinces us: God is on our side.
That’s the “new teaching” that Jesus brought to the world.
Ted Wolgamot, Psy.D.