Today the gospel is the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. The first reading asks the question of how harshly the Apostle should be treated. If their message is divine, man can’t defeat it. But what of today?
Today, the age of philosophy. An age of attitude and choice. An age of media, of the multiplication of opinion and ideology. The independent mind and the independent voice amplified. Ten thousand watts, one hundred thousand watts. One, two or three opinions broadcasted to a multitude. Harsh opinions, harsh judgment, conflict. Think of what the founding fathers wrote on a coin. In God We Trust. They knew. They knew who held the microphone, they knew who controlled the presses and the airwaves. They knew the Donald’s and the Hillary’s and the Turners and the Murdoch’s and the Sores of their day. Did they trust any of those people? He’ll (k)No-w! In God they trusted, public opinion be damned. That is the multiplication of fishes, people agreed with them. They knew how a lousy message could be promoted, and how truth was so seldom spoken
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
Because they realized it was the Lord.
It’s still Easter. Some events are so grand and so significant they stop time. Easter is one of those events. Time stops that we might ponder the resurrection and come to understand it. The gospel story is a Resurrection story, it is an accurate description of how the Apostles interacted with a risen LORD. It is a confession of their vision, but note the details. They do not describe that risen Lord as a painter or sculptor might. They do not give account of a vivid visual description. They do not describe His height or weight or eye color, or musculature or the apperance of wounds or abnormalities or infirmaries. They give testament to what they witnessed when they walked with Him. Their time on the boat, the storms at sea. Most important they describe the presence at the breaking of bread, at the end of a fast. That recognize and testify that Jesus the Christ was truly present and walked with them, and dined with them, and talked to them. Jesus the Christ did this after he was Crucified and died and was buried. That’s the definition of the resurrection. It’s the encounter of Jesus after he was crucified, and believe me the Apostles were crucified for their encounter with the risen LORD. That’s the definition of a martyr.
That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
Lets draw attention to the distance, seven miles. No, its not the distance that is important but the number. Seven. Seven in biblespeak implies heavenly, that means something divine is about to occur. Next that town, Emmaus. From the local language it translates into warm spring, a spring of water. Refreshing and life sustaining. The fountain sought by so many. Some think that translation Emmaus is actually Oulammaus, tone place where Jacob wrestles with God. Its all good, God is encountered on that road to Emmaus. The Easter Christ appears to the disciples, again proof of the resurrection. This is their testament. Think of that woman at the well at Samaria, and what Jesus said “but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” On this road to Emmaus they encounter the risen LORD and receive this spring of water of everlasting life. Something to think about…
Well what did I think about today. It’s Holy Saturday. I thought about how people would “see” the Easter Christ. Some I thought would see a Christ exit the tomb much as He entered. For some the same body minus the cuts and bruises. Others would still see the scars and disfigurements of the Cross, a body narrowly escaping death. Still others envision the spiritual and symbolic, they see joy. I wonder how many will look for that resurrected Lord. How many will seek and search to see Him. I know the theology is incorrect. But how many will actively seek those signs of life? How many will put themselves in the Apostles shoes.
Finally I wonder, does anyone see fit the need to help roll that stone from the tomb? No, I am not suggesting that someone helped Christ from the tomb. The Gospel explains the guards preventing that. Who thinks of those guards of the tomb on Easter? Who thinks of those that desperately do not want a risen Christ to be seen? Are the remnants of those who fear the Easter Christ present today? I wonder. Not everyone is celebrating, there is an opponent. Let’s briefly shine a light on that.
Everyone sees Christ’s resurrection differently, some don’t see it at all. (Some deny it, and some fear it. I don’t want to write too long.. .)
The fact is that Jesus was victorious, Christ exited that cave. The stone could not contain Him and neither could those guards employed by those against Him. Jesus conquered death. Jesus was not, and cannot be defeated. Everlasting life cannot die and infinity can not be constrained. Not then, not now, not ever. Jesus Christ has risen, He as truly risen. Alleluia Alleluia (there’s a word you haven’t heard in a while)
A great ball of fire descends from heaven and crashes towards earth, it is Pentecost. (I made that up.)
What marvels first about this day is that Mary and the Apostles a locked in a room with the wind blowing outside. It sounds as if they are weathering a storm. I first think fear, but then I think again. I think of wind blowing across the sea and of a breath across water, God is with them. It’s the breath of life. God is with them and they learned the nature of God from their LORD. What do they fear? God is with them.
Pentecost is not unique to the New Testament, the feast does follow Jewish tradition. Perhaps the Old celebration might shed some light on the new? Some research might be required. The Jewish feast is Shavuot and is the final celebration of a grain harvest that lasted seven weeks. Last week was the seventh Sunday of Easter. Coincidence? No. Pentecost is a harvest festival, and particularly the harvest of wheat. The gathering in that upper room is the first Apostles, the first harvest. From the Old celebration an image of wheat and bread begins to appear. It’s the first harvest of wheat and suddenly the gospel of the multiplication of loaves and fishes enters the subconscious. These Apostles are the first but they will multiply. Pentecost, wheat, bread; they are all related. Pentecost is known as the birth of the Church. Interesting story; Shavuot celebrates the grain harvest, Sukkot celebrates the fruit harvest. If I recall correctly Sukkot is at the same time as the transfiguration. Bread and wine.
Pentecost, Shavuot, in the older tradition celebrates something other than an agricultural harvest. It also celebrates the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. To one group the receiving of law, the other Spirit. A new creation, a new testament. A wind blows outside, Jesus enters the room through closed doors. The barrier between heaven and earth is shattered. What was closed is now opened. It is more than the barrier between heaven and earth that disappears. The reading of today tells of the Tower of Babel. That tower was destroyed and tongues confused because those people tied to become gods. At Pentecost the tongues are understood. Although many languages are spoken, they can all understand. Sometimes I think of that tower destroyed so that man might shut up and listen, in that upper room they listen and understand. A bridge between heaven and earth, a bridge between nations. Creation restored. I can’t miss the story if creation with that wind blowing outside. I also remember Noah’s storm.
With all of this babble, what was the message that the Lord gives as he enters through those closed doors. The first is simply “Peace be with you.” How often does that message become lost among men pretending to become gods? To allow for peace is to shatter the barriers of hostility and hatred. Peace turns a raging storm into a breath of fresh air. That storm outside can either be a torrent of fear and destruction or the breath of life. Jesus’s second message? “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” It is a message that gives a path to peace. A breath of fresh air that sustains life, not destroys it. Odd to think how dark and frightening the Pentecost story is with all doors shut and windows shuttered. What a refreshing difference once they are opened. I becomes a breath of fresh air. The breath of life revisited.