Back for the last week in April. Keep well, my dears.
Both Luke and John describe post-Resurrection encounters where the disciples didn’t recognise Jesus until they’d spoken to him, or where he didn’t look as they remembered but they somehow knew it was him. Various people have speculated about why this might be so. I wonder why Luke and John recorded it. No. That’s not quite true. I assume they recorded it because it was true. What I wonder is why people think the writers of Luke and John might have invented such an unnecessary and confusing detail. One is a skilled story-teller; the other scholarly writer. Such a narrative blunder seems highly unlikely.
“As he showed them real hands and a real side, he really ate with his disciples; really walked with Cleophas; conversed with men with a real tongue; really reclined at supper; with real hands took bread, blessed and broke it, and was offering it to them. ..Do not put the power of the Lord on the level with the tricks of magicians, so that he may appear to have been what he was not, and may be thought to have eaten without teeth, walked without feet, broken bread without hands, spoken without a tongue, and showed a side which had no ribs.” (St Jerome, from a letter to Pammachius against John of Jerusalem 34, 5th century)
In a few weeks, they went from a broken group of disappointed men and women, hiding behind locked doors in an upper room, to fervent evangelists, ready to proclaim their faith out loud in the synagogue and the marketplace, and to die for it if they needed to do so.
To me, this seems strong evidence that they believed they had witnessed everything that Jerome talks about above. Their belief in the resurrection makes sense of the survival of Christianity past its early start as a persecuted minority favoured by the lowest classes. Does this ‘prove’ the resurrection? No, of course not. You are free to believe with the disciples or not to believe. Does it explain the reason for the resurrection? No, again. For that, we look to the Church, and 2000 years of meditation from devout, thoughtful, and intelligent men and women.
Posted in Bible study, Catholic history, Theology | Tagged Jesus walks through a locked door, proof of the resurrection, reasons for the resurrection, the logic of the resurrection, the upper room | 13 Comments »
We’re not told in today’s first reading how the lame beggar felt the next morning, when he woke up and realised that he no longer had a job. Perhaps he’d learned skills before he was lame that he could now turn to? We can trust that, filled with the Spirit as they were, John and Peter gave the lame man what he needed.
I think, though, that those of us who are not saints need to be careful about the charity we give and the charities we support. It’s far too easy to make judgements about what people need, and insist that they take it. The best aid stories I’ve heard have involved the Western aid agencies setting aside their preconception and working with the communities they try to help to find out what the communities perceive their needs to be.
My beloved and I won $78 dollars on the Lotto last week, which led us to talk about what we’d do with the current big prize (which is several million). We agreed we’d like to see it used effectively at a local community level – some in our family, some in New Zealand, and some overseas. We’d like to have more money to give to one of the causes we care passionately about – such as freedom for slaves, education for girls and women, access to clean water and to safe housing, protection from violence. But we wouldn’t want to just hand over money without being sure that the actions were grassroots actions – local initiatives arising from local needs supported by local effort and structured in a way that local people can become independent of external help.
To me, that’s love in action. Helping people to rise up and walk.
Last week, we had a combox discussion about what in the Church needs reform. David Schutz, in a thoughtful post on the reform of the Curia, reminds us that reform can’t stop in one place, and that – in Church history – those in most need of reform have usually been those most resistant.
Read the whole post for gems like this:
Don’t think that the Curia can reformed without the whole Church being reformed; and don’t think that the Church can be reformed without YOU (and me) being reformed.
…it isn’t a “liberal vs conservative” thing, it is an “inward vs outward” thing. The Counter-Reformation was, of necessity, “inward”. But the time for “inward” is gone, and the time for “outward” – Evangelisation – is here. Yet a characterisation of both the old fashioned dyed-in-the-wool liberals and new Rad Trads is that they both share the view of an “inward looking”, aka, “self-referential” Church.