Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
Our great Octave of Easter celebration this year is mingled, for me, with tears and sadness for our Christian brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka, and elsewhere - where violence and terrorism has threatened to overtake our Resurrection songs.
Of course, we Christians know that there is more to it: death is not the end. We believe that, we proclaim it, we seek to live it in so many ways. Still. Believing that life and love is stronger than death does not negate the grief, pain, suffering, and anguish we feel - not only now, but at various times in our lives.
Today's scriptures remind us of God's gaze on us, how God sees us in all our lives, including our joys and sorrows. In today's Gospel (Luke 24:13-25), we see the well-known Walk to Emmaus passage. Two unknown disciples are on the road, talking with each other about all that has happened in Jerusalem. They are sorrowing, mystified, troubled - and they do not recognize Jesus when he comes into their midst.
But Jesus sure recognizes them! He sees them - each one of them, as the unique people they are. In seeing them, he takes the time to be with them. He addresses their questions and even shares a meal with them. He sees them - and eventually, they see him too. But it is only because they have taken the time to be with each other, to try to see each other, that Jesus is revealed to them.
Today's first reading (Acts 3:1-10) underscores that seeing, that looking intently at each other. Peter and John head to prayer, but encounter a disabled beggar at the gate. Unlike the many who might merely walk by - Peter and John notice, really notice, the man. More than that, they ask the man to look at them. Out of all the people in the temple square, Peter and John take the time to notice this one, and he in turn takes the time to notice them - even though they do not have the money he hopes they might have.
Today, we should rest in the fact that God is gazing intently at each one of us, in the midst of our real struggles, grief, and pain. We are likewise called to respond to God's gaze - to look at God's presence in our midst. More than that, we are called to look at others - really look - and see the neighbors God asks us to see and love.
In this way, let us live the joy of the resurrection!
- Jana M. Bennett