Recognizing the Risen Christ

Who does not love the gospels we read this week, with their stories of meeting the Risen Christ? How one’s whole being thrills with Mary Magdalene as she hears the Lord calling her by name or with those weary disciples, their hearts burning within them as the scriptures are explained to them on the road to Emmaus, and then that amazing moment of recognition as Jesus breaks bread with them. We shall see the Risen Christ on the sea-shore, put our hands into the mark of the nails, be questioned by him, be commissioned by him. We shall know him, yet not know him; recognize him yet still perhaps doubt. In a word, we shall be plunged into the mystery of the Resurrection — and it will all be new, strange, unsettling and the most profound joy we have ever known.

For most, the way in which we are celebrating Easter this year is without precedent. We have been discovering anew the power and holiness of the domestic church — making a chapel of our living room, an altar of our table and a lectern or pulpit of our tablet or smartphone. For some, live-streamed worship has taken the place of gathering physically with the parish community; for others, there has been a more conscious and regular participation in the ancient prayer of the Church known as the Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office. Whichever it is, the intention is the same: to meet the Risen Christ, to adore him, to love him, to serve him. That is why, no matter how engaged we are with worship, we cannot neglect him in our brothers and sisters, many of whom are suffering terribly at this time.

For a cloistered nun like me, that poses a special challenge but it is one I suspect my older or less able readers may share. Yes, we can pray; but can we do anything practical to help those in need? For many of us the answer will be a disappointing ‘no’. We haven’t the money or resources, physical or otherwise, to help others directly. Happily, that also means we can’t pat ourselves on the back that we have done something good and worthwhile. We actually have to live our faith. The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus have an ambiguity that draws us in. We don’t see him healing or preaching. He just is; but he is in a way that is intensely alive and life-giving. I have a hunch that we who call ourselves his disciples are meant to be the same. We may not do very much, but through our prayer and our readiness to respond to the Lord, we are inviting the Risen Christ into the heart of a sick and suffering world which he alone can heal and give new life to. It is a humbler role than we might like, perhaps, but it is the one that will prove most fruitful.

We may not always recognize the Risen Christ as we would wish, but I’m confident he will always recognize us; and that is what matters. Cleopas and his companion walked seven long miles in Jesus’ company, but only recognized him when he himself chose to disclose himself to them. Let us be try to be ready for that moment in our own lives.

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9 thoughts on “Recognizing the Risen Christ”

  1. So very true, as an ‘older’ person (and I confess I don’t like that label) me and my dear (most of the time!) other half have to stay at home. Most of my volunteering, apart from moderating a couple of forums and doing the parish Twitter account, has stopped. And it’s that, along with caring for my grandchildren which has given the main purpose to my life. As a Martha, not a Mary I find it very, very hard. I like to be useful. It’s hard to feel useless although I think I know what you would say… I shall need to reread these words of wisdom every day I think to keep me sane and halfway sensible.

    • Dear MiceElf,
      Me too! Always doing rather than being. I can‘t now, legs are most uncooperative, but maybe that‘s for the best. So my doing is now directed at learning to be, and it‘s tough! God bless.

  2. This year I have become conscious spiritually of Christ walking with me, waiting there beside me, and it has been the lovely human nature of the Gospel readings and the humility of your commentaries, dear Sister, that have inspired this heart warming feeling. Thank you.

  3. Thank you. As a fairly new 70’s recruit (72 next birthday) I am finding it not easy at all to remember that I am one of the “oldies”, and probably too old to volunteer in this present crisis. My mind was working round roughly the same circles as this blog – but the blog encapsulates it all so well; for which this “active nun” for one is truly grateful!

  4. My contemplation of recent is that holy people who pray contribute substantially. I am still earning and donate based on the good prayers, requests, and examples shown us by retired nuns and some soon-to-be-retired missionary priests. Think of it as a cascade of faith from the uber-faith-conscious (like you leading a holy life) to the less-faith-conscious (like me who is admittedly focused and preoccupied on the daily needs for my business and family). I can donate resources easier than I can free up time to think of the best ways to use it or who needs it. Sorry to be so blunt, and perhaps it speaks ill of me, but I think it is accurate regardless.

    So do not hesitate to pray. By the way, our prayers concerning my business and family life get answered regularly. We don’t get everything we ask for, but we get plenty. And Jesus reminds us by asking: “Isn’t My grace sufficient?” It is. Our Lord is the Lord of abundance. Feeding 5,000 is nothing for our God.

    • Sorry, Tim, but just as nuns tend to be very busy as well as praying, you are still called to prayer. Not as yet another obligation on an already full day with lots of concerns for your family, etc, but because the Lord loves you and wants to be close to you. Your generosity will always please him, but I think he must delight as much in your obvious desire to please him (which is in itself a prayer) and your willingness to be of service to others (whether by means of your time or your cheque book) as anything. So, be encouraged!

  5. Our cat was seriously ill a few weeks ago. In a follow-up telephone call from our veterinary clinic nurse I described the cat’s convalescence, the side effects of the antibiotics and our stressed-out concerns as her caregivers.

    As a pensioner imagine my shock when the nurse exclaimed “Oh my poor old lady…” I thought it rather cheeky, but then again, understood her to be commiserating with me. She then went on to say “But she is 13, after all, so….” I then realized “my poor old lady” was in reference to our cat, not me! This has brought a chuckle to Harold and I ever since.

    I hope to be able to recognize Jesus whenever He reveals himself to me. I’m aware of how easy it is to misunderstand, fail to pick up on cues, etc. I do trust He’ll be persistent enough to get through to me, and to all of us no matter what our expectations of such an encounter might be.

    p.s. the cat recovered and so did we

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