Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Playfulness of the Resurrection

At the Easter Vigil, the church—as always—was beautifully arrayed with lilies and tulips, with candelabra and their clean white candle sticks. Yet my favorite part is always the little lamb displayed before the wooden altar. It’s that image where the lamb has tucked up against his white fleece the banner of the Resurrection—a flowing white banner with a stark red cross. I failed, however, to notice this little lamb until I was walking up to receive communion. He caught my eye at this moment because of the movement of the people shuffling up the aisle towards the altar. Once I would see him then someone would shift their weight obstructing my view. This happened repeatedly so that the lamb seemed to be ebbing in and out of the people ahead of me as if hiding—playfully.

In fact, the same was true for the Lord himself. If I looked ahead in another direction there was Jesus prominently presented before the communicant and then disappearing into his hand. It was as if he was popping up, and winking, he would slip away again. I sort of laughed to myself about this playful interpretation of these events, but the truth is I found it very endearing of God. I’m going to get you, I thought. And I did, of course, but isn’t that what the hider wants when we play such games? When we play peek-a-boo with a child, its fun and elicits laughter insofar as eye contact is made or perhaps just anticipated. It is played with the hope of catching sight of the other.

I think about this in reference to the Resurrection. For forty days Jesus is popping up now here, now there. He comes disguised—looking like a gardener or a passer-by. He shows up walking through walls and eating fish. He appears at specific times to specific people but not at all times nor to all people. One may always be expecting him as if with eyes closed, and the Lord himself may somehow be joyfully anticipating his next encounter when his friend’s eyes are uncovered and he is beheld. I think there was much laughter during these days.

Of course, the rules change a little bit after the ascension. After Pentecost it is different, but the game is still played. Jesus still comes to his friends. Jesus still wants to appear before you when your eyes are uncovered. But since at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to give us a new spiritual vision, Jesus appears before our the eyes of our spirit. The problem is we seem to be very good at covering these eyes, huh? The problem may be that we’ve taped them shut.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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