by DAN LEMELIN
I love the post-resurrection accounts from the gospels. These stories present to us a Christ who is always close even when he is not in view. I cannot know this for sure, but it seems that God’s purpose in these accounts of Jesus’ many appearances was in part to assure us of his nearness in the midst of the most mundane of human experiences, and in the most ordinary of settings.
The God whom Jesus revealed through his life was not geographically distant or relationally aloof, but close, affectionate, passionate, and lovingly engaged with people, all people. God’s “here-ness” frames the life of Christ, from the angelic incarnational declaration of “Emmanuel – God with us,” to the promise from Jesus’s own lips – “I will be with you always.”
More personal than just “touching” his hands and feet, he calls us to be them. How close are the branches to the vine, and how connected is the body to the head? In the words of St. Augustine, “you are closer to me than I am to myself.”
Christ brings hope to the brokenhearted in the garden, passes through walls to join doubters at the table, and awaits patiently on the shoreline to serve breakfast to the deniers.
Let us not imagine that the post-resurrection visitations are just flashy ways of saying goodbye, or that the promise of the Spirit is only a “divine consolation prize.” This was the introduction to a new divine reality, that God is closer “now” than ever.