Pastor’s reflection for weekend of April 14-15 (Jn. 24:35-48) Commercials have changed a lot. Today they are quicker, fast paced, quick scene changes and some more suggestive than others. Marketing wants you to buy the product they present before you.
One of my favorites of yesteryear was one that was promoting the vitamins and minerals in liver (not my favorite dish). At the beginning the boy walks out of his mother’s house saying he’s going to Johnny’s for supper because he has discovered his mom has liver prepared for supper. After an explanation of why we should eat liver the commercial ends with the boy returning home very quickly. His mother asks what happened and he responds: ‘Johnny’s mom is having liver also!’
The idea of commercials comes to my mind when reading today’s gospel. The Easter gospels are so beautiful and we probably never grasp the great love, forgiveness and presence of God that is in them.
In this morning’s gospel Jesus has another meal with his disciples after the resurrection. He doesn’t come to this band of followers who betrayed him and trash talk them for what they have done; nor does he go out to find another group that might possibly carry on the message of Jesus. He doesn’t hand them a pink slip and doesn’t look for someone to blame or to sue. He doesn’t even call them out for abandoning Him at the darkest hour of His life. In fact all he says to them is ‘Peace’ and ‘let’s have a meal.’
The challenge from this gospel is can we still believe that God is with us. (Johnny’s mom is having liver also’ and we know that the mother fed her child.). Since Jesus did not harass, condemn or blow off the disciples they must have had a deep sense of gratitude among themselves.
It is easy to think that certain things and suffering should not happen to us – and yet we are all subject to life and what it entails and brings. In the midst of that – with all that is a part of life – do we have gratitude or just take everything for granted as owed to us. Despite all that goes on in our lives and all the crazy things we do God continues to come back to us as He does to the disciples in today’s gospel and simply says: ‘I love you, I am with you!’
One of the sad things of my ministry is to hear within or outside the confessional: ‘how can God love me?’ This gospel tells us that that is not an issue and that ‘yes’ he does love us despite any of our failings.
What the Easter gospels and today’s gospel bring out is not so much do we believe in the resurrection – however that was. But rather can we believe that God continues to believe in us, continues to bless us in spite of our weaknesses and continues to enter in to our lives in ways we aren’t even aware of.
And so – in the end – coming to mass is not just something we do on the weekend. Rather it is a time to celebrate that continual presence of God in our lives – yes, even in our failings. We might have even tried a few meals of what the world has to offer and discovered they are not all that fulfilling. ("Johnny's mom is having liver also!") As we come to mass this weekend we can only say: ‘Praise God!’
Father Bob Kraig