Gospel Reflection for Sunday the 18th of April 2021
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3rd Sunday of Easter
It is a wonderful thing how a Gospel writer can engage all our senses in a single story. Hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting are our ways of experiencing the world we live in. All those senses come alive in this Gospel. We begin with the disciples telling the story of their encounter with Jesus. Storytelling has a unique way of drawing us into the world of the storyteller. We move from our world into the world of the story. The story has a power in so far as a narrator has a gift to tell the story. The greatest of storytellers can make a character come alive in the imagination of an audience. However we all know there is a world of difference between talking about someone who has died and making that person appear before others. That is exactly what the disciples are about to see happen. Jesus appears in order to take up the story in bodily form. The story is no longer about words. The words have taken flesh. As always Jesus greets the discipline with the gift of peace. The appearance of Jesus is a sensory overload for the disciples who look for a plausible explanation. Is it a Ghost? Are they witnessing an apparition of some sort? Jesus sees their fears and responds by an invitation to reach out and experience the reality of his presence. Then they understand and can believe. Then he asks for something to eat. In the Gospels food is never presented as just a means of satisfying bodily hunger but rather food, and especially the sharing of food, satisfies a human longing to belong to others. The disciples give Jesus a piece of fish which he eats. They are giving a piece of something that they have already shared. Jesus seeks to be a part of their lives and wants the disciples to remember this moment when he stood among them holding what they had to offer. Jesus is showing that to be alive is to be alive in the senses. The act of holding a piece of grilled fish is a simple human gesture. We can all appreciate that fish has an aroma, a particular taste and texture. In this context holding a piece of a fish is about holding a piece of life that can be shared with others.
Reflecting on this Gospel it is good to remind ourselves that we experience God through our senses. In this Easter season we prayer for a sense of wonder, a sense of seeing the world as Jesus sees it in this story. The Gospel celebrates the blessings of friendships, food and faith. We pray for the grace to see and the faith to understand that the present moment is the only time we have and is all the time we need. There is a beauty in the text. We often read Gospel texts and put ourselves in the shoes of those who encounter Jesus. Perhaps at other times we see ourselves as a by passer just witnessing the scene. All these are ways of prayer that allow us to listen to the words of Jesus. Sometimes however the Gospel invites us to explore the words and actions of Jesus in a particular time and place. There is a tremendous innocence in the actions of Jesus, a childlike enthusiasm in his discovering the world anew. There is a sense of the joy of discovering things lost and seeing them as if for the first time. We take so much for granted on our pilgrimage through life; the faith that sustains us, the family that gives us roots, the friendships that give us life, the clothes on our back, the roof over our head, the food and drink that sustain us. All these things are blessings that not everyone in the world enjoys. We should have hearts bursting with gratitude for the good things that we are enjoying. In life there is so much more cause for celebration than consternation. If only we had the good sense, and made use of the senses that God gives us, to see and understand this joyful reality.
-Fr Paddy Moran CSSp