Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian
What do the Resurrection Appearances model for us?
#JesusRadley is the Podcast for April 3, 2016. How does Robert Duvall teach us to know Jesus? Do we act like we know Jesus? What do Boo Radley and Jesus Christ have in common? Listen here in this reflection: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #HeIsRisen #Raised #ChristianCommunity #Yoder #Lindars
Jesus Radley: A Reflection on John 20:19-31
Full Text of Podcast, Open Here
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/3/2016 The 2nd Sunday of Easter.
Please pause this audio and read John 20:19-31.
In the movie version of Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, the climactic scene is where a pale, bleached haired, Robert Duvall (Robert Duvall! Of all people! You know, of The Godfather 1 and 2, Lonesome Dove, Jack Reacher), stands as the character Boo Radley in the corner of the room. Radley, the unseen fascination of the children who are the main characters throughout the whole book, is finally seen. When we see him in the movie, he has been in the scene the whole time, standing behind an open door, hiding. Mr. Arthur “Boo”Radley, has just saved the life of the children who were targeted and attacked because their attorney father dared to defend a black man in the 1930s Southern United States.
It is only after Radley followed the children home from the school play and protected them from the vicious attack that Scout, the main character, recognizes him. All during the scene, as Jean Louise “Scout” Finch is being questioned by her father and the county prosecutor, she notices a presence in the room. She only announces his presence when she comes to the climax of the dialogue to identify who it was that saved them. “It was him!,” she says as she points to the man behind the opened door. I have posted the video clip at MySpiritualAdvisor.com.
It took me a while, but in trying to understand Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene last week, and to the Apostles this week, appearing twice for Thomas’ benefit, I was struck by how similar Boo Radley and Jesus are. Radley is a Jesus type character in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jesus, played by himself in the Gospels.
The scholar Barnabas Lindars writes, “The timing of the Thomas episode suggests the pattern of regular Sunday worship. Thus, the traditions of actual appearances are related to the Church’s worshiping life, in which the meaning of the Resurrection is realized, and this connection has to some extent shaped the tradition.” Mark Kurowski says, that not only do the appearances relate to the Church’s worshipping tradition, they are the center of our worshiping tradition. The appearance and reappearance of Jesus Christ to people who have faith is central to who we are as a people.
Lindars is right, the timing and placement of the Resurrection stories are key. Jesus appears to those who have faith seeing the empty tomb, like St. John the Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple. Jesus appears to those who have faith because an angel tells them that he is risen, like Mary Magdalene. Jesus appears to those who have faith because they see him, like the Ten Disciples in the upper room. Jesus appears to those who have faith even though they need to see for themselves like Thomas.
Central to the fiber of our being is the declaration that Jesus Christ has Risen from the dead. The next central tenant of our faith is that because he is Risen, he is still alive, and he still interacts with us. To. This. Day. He speaks to us when we hear the Scriptures read. He offers us peace in the passing of the peace. He listens to us as we lift up our prayers. He sings, sways, and dances with us as the music is played. He touches our hearts through the Preaching. He joins himself to us in the Eucharist. He is there when we need a community to bear our burdens, a friend to listen to us that knows how life can just suck, or a family with whom we don’t have to explain our way of life in the Lord.
That is not how we behave, though. We act as though Jesus is a whispy, shadowy figure, that could possibly or maybe, possibly not be in worship with us on Sundays. Sometimes the declarations made by our body language say things like this: “Oh, maybe that was a WORD from the Lord!” “Oh, I think that might be Jesus speaking to me, even though it was perfect advice for my situation in life. Uh, but, I’m not sure…” Blah! “Wherever two or more are gathered in his name,” he is there! The Resurrection appearances tell us so. They are the archetype for the Christian life.
What is an archetype? It is an original pattern from which all things are copied. God has given us all kinds of them: Adam and Eve in the Garden. The deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt with Moses. The Ark of the Covenant that held the Ten Commandments. The worship in the Temple. David as the youngest to rise to the King of Judah. We have all kinds of archetypes that tell us how God acts and chooses. We do not often talk about the archetypes of Christian community in the Church. Too often we have ecclesiastical food fights over how formal or informal we ought to be in the liturgy, the worship. We talk about the structures in which we worship. We argue about whether to call ourselves a “Church” or a “Worship Center”. There are all kinds of nonsensical things about which we argue because we are human. Very little is discussed, although much ink has been spilt in pastoral care literature, about what kind of a community we are and what we can expect from believers in how we conduct our business.
What we see in the Resurrection stories of Jesus, not all of which are recounted in the Gospels because there were just too many, we see all levels of faith presented, as I mentioned earlier. We see Jesus use all kinds of means of communicating to us. Yet, what is central is a Risen Christ in a transformed resurrected body who is at the center of a community of people who are fully imbued with his mission and trust his presence.
In what I am about to say, I almost said, “How are we living this idea…” See how even those of us who are publically declared lovers of Jesus can slip up. Let me try again, “How are we living this truth?” How are our Masses and worship services emblematic of the drama that displays this truth? How are we publicly acknowledging that Jesus is real, he is risen, and he is with us every minute of the day? How are we ordering our work day to represent this truth?
Are we living openly with Jesus? Or, is Jesus Boo Radley, the mysterious guy in a house that we never see, but only see the finger prints of his work? Is Jesus Boo Radley, a quiet person who never gets in our way, doesn’t cause a fuss, but we are sure is up to no good trying to constrain us as we spend the summer of our lives rooting him out of his hiding place? Is Jesus Boo Radley, standing in the corner of our churches, our homes, our offices, until we finally recognize that he is the one who saved us last night? It is time for Christians everywhere to renew our commitment and the reality that Jesus is walking with us everywhere. He has never left us. It is time for us to recognize that Jesus is not just standing behind the open door, but is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is time for US to come out of the closet and declare openly through the way we live our lives every moment of the day, He is Risen! Amen.
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