Thursday, 23 September 2021
“LORD for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended.”
This is a line from the Roman Catholic funeral service. God has not created us to snuff us out. He has created us to bring us home to himself for all eternity.
And for this we must be changed, transformed, transfigured.
What happened to Jesus Christ in his resurrection, transformation and glorification must happen to us too.
The Gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus show him in process of change.
He appears to the apostles first without Thomas being present, then again when Thomas is with them.
He shows them his body, his wounds. This is the body that was nailed to the cross, that was laid in the tomb. Touch, feel the reality.
The third resurrection appearance of Jesus to his apostles occurs on the sea shore.
The apostles had been fishing and to convince them of his reality Jesus eats bread and fish with them.
At other times he seems different in resurrection. Mary Magdalene meets him on the morning of the resurrection and mistakes him for the gardener. She only recognises him when he says her name.
Later that day Jesus meets two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus but “their eyes were kept from recognising him”. He explained the scriptures to them, showing them that the Christ had to suffer before entering into his glory.
The disciples’ hearts burned within them but the penny only finally dropped when they sat down at table and Jesus blessed and broke some bread. Then they recognised him but he vanished from their sight.
Reflecting on this process, this phenomenon, John Henry Newman focused on Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus said in the garden of the resurrection, “Do not touch me.”
At the moment, Mary, he seems to say, do not touch me because a change has begun in me that must be brought to its completion. At the moment, you can only touch a part of me of me for some of the time. Our relation is external. Let me go to the Father. Then, with this process complete, I will come to you in the power of the Spirit, so that our relationship may be total, not partial, internal, not external, eternal not temporal.
So we, too, shall be changed after the pattern established by our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 April 2017
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