This Sunday’s lectionary reading is the wonderful passage from Luke 24 v 36 to 40 where the risen Christ, in person, appears amidst his deeply fearful disciples. And eats some fish.
The Gospel reading:
36-41 While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.
41-43 He asked, “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.
Fear is, for us all, part and parcel of what it is to be human. Indeed, the psychological sciences tells us that alongside anger, happiness, disgust, surprise, sadness; fear is one of our six primary emotions. Regardless of background, age, culture, gender etc. In so many ways fear can be a positive response to life and its vicissitudes; though given my experience of the Covid-19 pandemic I, for one, have used up my “fear allocation” it has to be said. Quite possibly you too.
It is so important to pay attention to our fears. Fear, rightly understood and acted upon ultimately leads to survival. Fear is, how do we say, “important”.
But not all fears become reality. Far from it. Thanks be to God.
There is much wisdom in the quote from Roosevelt when he quipped…”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Much wisdom, if not always easy to build his maxim into our life. Truth be told (and despite some preachers best efforts when they tell their flock to choose “faith over fear”), fear is real, often not about choice, is felt in the core of our being and sometimes is present for very good reasons. When confronted by fearful situations it is known that our basic human response of fight, flight, freeze or flop so often directs our first response to a challenging situation.
The disciples must have been scared witless by the Crucifixion, the death of their Messiah and the religious authorities seeking them out. Maybe there was a fair bit of fighting, flighting, freezing and flopping going on as they pulled themselves together after the death of Christ.
Into the middle of this fearful and dejected group, Christ physically appears. He scares the life out of those gathered. Indeed, he creates “fear”, as the disciples mistake him as a ghost. Christ, somehow, through walls and closed doors, in person, turns up. The resurrected body is fully visible and fully touchable. The resurrected body, that is the resurrected Christ, is actually hungry. His shaken followers offer him some “leftover fish”.
the hope of ages,
is that Christ,
meets our deepest fear…
With the Church, globally, now in the full flow of the Easter season, a few questions of examen to consider…
Amidst my fears, what might I do, today with God’s grace, to face my concerns?
This week and in the weeks ahead. Where does Christ meet me in the ordinary and seek to share a meal with me?
In the midst of all that distresses me…what “leftover’s” does Christ seek from my life, my relationships, my well being, my community of faith?