It is The Lord!!
What a strange way for St. John to have expressed himself! He writes: this was now the third time Jesús was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. Not this was the third time the disciples saw Jesús, but the third time Jesús was revealed to them, or appeared to them.
When we see a friend, we do not tell others that our friend was revealed to us or appeared to us. . We just say: “I saw my friend”. So what is John trying to tell us?
A revelation, when it appears, transforms us. We see reality in new and different ways. The author of the Book of Revelation experienced the appearance of a multitude singing and praising God. He did not see this; it appeared to him. Through the revelation he was better able to understand that Jesús, the slain Lamb, is still worthy to receive honor and glory and blessing. He has Risen from death – gone beyond it..
Death appeared to one of my sisters and me a year ago tonight, at our mother’s bedside. We did not SEE death, but as death appeared to us, as it was revealed to us, it was not tragic or threatening. There was a certain peace and assuredness that all was well with her. We lost her, but she was not lost. Death had no power over her.
During the past year, of course, we have missed her terribly and thought and dreamed of her often. But the revelation as a result of death’s appearance to us, while not perfectly clear or simple to relate, has increasingly convinced at least me that there is nothing to fear. Hope and trust replace fear and trembling.
This is why the apostles were able to tell the Sanhedrin: “We have been witnesses to a great revelation each time Jesús, whom you killed, has appeared to us. He is more powerful than death. We do not always recognize him at first, but each time he does Jesús-like things, it is revealed that he still lives and appears among us each time we break the bread and drink from the cup, and each time we obey his command to love one another by putting each one’s need before our own. You can lock us up or tell us to stop giving witness, but we have learned that we must obey God rather than men.”
No human institution, whether political or religious, has the right to take away our conscientious decision to obey the law of Love, as it is revealed to us. Pope Francis emphasizes this truth in his new document, the Joy of Love. We will be discussing the document in coming weeks.
If the resurrection of Jesús does not compel us to give witness to his way of loving, then it is merely a teaching and not a revelation. If the resurrection does not reveal to us our call to love, to feed and to be willing to suffer for the truth, as means to eternal life, our mourning will never be turned into dancing.
Faith in the Resurrection not just of Jesús but in my mother, in our loved ones, in all who have died and in our own divine share of God’s life bears witness to abrupt, transformative newness that I cannot explain. I can only share what has appeared and been revealed. The Risen Jesus appears where least expected, and everything is changed. The death defying power of Christ Risen has the capacity to work newness where newness seems impossible.
When we live the Resurrection by being the Risen Christ, we can say to each other, as did the disciple Jesús loved, “It is the Lord!” He has risen indeed. Alleluia!