6th Sunday of Easter C - Homily 1

Homily 1 - 2010

Today’s Gospel spoke of Jesus, the disciples, Jesus’ Father, and the Spirit of Jesus. I seem to pick up there a pervading impression of gentleness, deep respect and quiet confidence and strength. All were interacting in the context of love, supporting, confirming, gifting, listening, and welcoming. The passage carried the promise of  peace, of home, and the invitation to let go of worry and fear.

The mood reflects, in some ways, the weather of the past week – the gentle life-giving, nurturing autumn rain, the soil gratefully receiving, yielding, and becoming soft and fertile in the process.

In the Gospel, there is no triumphant victory over enemies, not even any competition with anyone, just mutuality and the unpredictable dance of life, as welcome as was the smell of rain on the grateful earth.

We are drawing towards the end of the Easter season. How has it been for you, so far? Personally, I have been reflecting of late on the “how” of Jesus’ resurrection. In one of our Easter hymns we sing about how Jesus burst triumphant from the tomb, the victory won! Alleluia! And most of the images we see of the Risen Jesus reflect that tone: triumph, and victory.

But, I wonder … To me, all that speaks of conflict or of competitiveness, even of  vindictiveness - of a turning of tables; the all-too-common adult version of the infantile: I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal!.

But, look at how the Gospel stories depict the risen Jesus. Today’s passage comes from John’s Gospel – so we’ll focus our search simply on the Gospel of John. Firstly – just the empty tomb, then … mistaken for the gardener by Mary Magdalene. (What a colossal anti-climax!) and recognised only when he tenderly said: Mary! Next, quietly present among the disciples that same evening. Not bursting through locked doors, no recrimination, just: Peace be with you; and the obvious wounds in his hands and side/ And, finally, cooking breakfast over a charcoal fire by a lakeside.

He rose – not to prove anything – He rose in order to say: Peace be with you. 

Perhaps, it has been that Jesus who has touched us this Easter season. No fanfares; no triumph, perhaps. scarcely recognised, uncertain – Is it he? but, then, also (as today’s Gospel promised us) a growing peace - where did that come from? - a peace certainly not given in the way the world gives. and, with it, a deeper listening, a hesitant opening of the doors of the heart so that Jesus and his Father, together, might come to us and make their home in us,

Along with all (or some) of that: perhaps, more things beginning to make sense, as the Spirit gently reminds us of all that Jesus has said to us, especially, despite all the contrary voices, that we are loved, and that, as Julian of Norwich so wisely said: All will be well! All will be  well! All manner of thing will be well!