Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Pilgrimage of the Easter Season: Where's Jesus?!

When my nieces were young, they cornered me on the couch with a book and said: "Where's Waldo?" I looked at a double-page spread of images piled on top of one another in dizzying vertical array. There were busses, cars, trucks, skyscrapers, houses, with people, cats, dogs, and birds all over the page. Where was Waldo? I was no help, because I didn't know what Waldo looked like to begin with.

I had no idea what I was looking for.

That puts me in a very similar situation to the disciples in the season after Easter. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! But no one knows what he looks like. No one knows what they are looking for.

Mary Magdalene mistakes him for a gardener. The disciples on the road to Emmaus mistake him for a wandering rabbi. And the usual suspects who've returned to their usual pursuits -- fishing on the Sea of Tiberias -- think he's some backseat fisherman, giving orders from the safety of the shore. Nobody recognizes the risen Christ.

It's pretty clear no one has any idea what they are looking for. So these forty days between Easter and Ascension give their eyes time to adjust to life in the Resurrection Zone. Forty days -- the same as Lent. And even more important.

Jesus comes back to teach, to leave peace, to touch and be touched -- and to cook the disciples breakfast. Like the Last Supper in Holy Week, the First Breakfast is the meal of the Easter season.

More congregations ought to celebrate that!

One of my friends complained about having the post-Easter doldrums: after the drama of the Triduum, we're now in "ordinary time -- and it just seems, well, so ordinary."

Hey -- it's not ordinary time yet! In the liturgical year, this is the season of Easter, and these forty days constitute a pilgrimage every bit as important as Lent's. Along the way, we learn to recognize the resurrected Christ.

So, where is he in the midst of that dizzying vertical array of appointments, deadlines, and e-mails in our lives?

Do we even know what we're looking for? Or will he surprise us along the road, like he surprised the disciples en route to Emmaus?

Be watching.


  1. Well if we could at least start by knowing where he's not. He's not in the tomb and it seems very challenging to resist the temptation to go back there and look for a dead body to fuss over.

  2. Thanks for the reminder, Marty. Too many times when I thought that I knew what I was looking for, I've been disappointed. And at least a few times when I wasn't expecting it I HAVE been surprised. And I hope to be--I'll be honest, long to be--surprised again. Thanks for the reminder to remember, and the reminder to keep watching....

  3. I'll pass on an insight Vic Klimoski passed on to me. His spiritual director was an elderly nun, seasoned in prayer. He asked he how familiar texts didn't become simply boring. She paused, then said:

    "I read the text until it surprises me."