The Not-So-Good News

I've been surprised lately by some people's lack of faith that any change for the better is possible in the church, a stance that seems in contradiction to the Easter message.  Here, then, is the way that Easter would have gone down with that attitude.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.   Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

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Then Peter said, “Well, that’s nice, I guess. But how long are you supposed to be staying?  I’ll bet you’re leaving soon, right?” And Jesus said, “Soon I must ascend to my Father and to your Father.”   

“That’s exactly what we were worried about,” said John, whom Jesus loved.   “See?” he said to the other disciples.  “I told you so.  I knew that story about the empty tomb was too good to be true.  This is so disappointing.” 

Then John asked Jesus, “So what are we supposed to do after you leave?” 

Jesus said, “I want you to be filled with joy that I have risen from the dead!  That life has triumphed over death, that love has triumphed over hatred, and that nothing is impossible with God!  And I want you to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth!

“Uh huh,” said Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. “I figured it was going to be something like that. The ends of the earth?  You realize how much work that’s going to be for us, don’t you?  All that traveling?  What a pain.  And, you know Lord, with you gone, that will definitely mean arguments and fighting and everyone taking sides.  Basically, things will be a mess.  This is terrible news.  Pretty much a nightmare if you ask me.”

Jesus was grieved by their lack of joy.  “Divisions might happen from time to time,” he said, “but if you trust that I will be with you until the end of the age, and that I will the send the Spirit to help, you will be able to move ahead in faith.”

“The Spirit?” said Philip.  “Please.  Trust in something we can’t even see?  How is that supposed to work?”

“Blessed are those who have not seen but still believe!” said Jesus.

“What a mess this is turning out to be,” said James, the son of Zebedee.  “Preaching the Gospel sounds like a non-starter, as far as I can tell.  And frankly I'm not alone in that assessment, Lord.  First of all, people don't seem all that interested in loving and forgiving.  Plus, we’re sure to be fighting all the time.  We can’t see the Spirit.  And frankly, the travel requirement is a bit much, don't you think?  I mean, no offense, Lord, but the ends of the earth? You only spent time in Judea and Galilee, and now you want us to go to the ends of the earth? This is pretty much my nightmare, too.  I agree with Peter.”

“Aren’t you joyful that I have risen from the dead?” Jesus asked, hoping that they would share in his joy.

The disciples were silent. 

"Nobody?" said Jesus.  "No one is happy that nothing is impossible with God?"

“Not if it means more work for us,” said Peter.  

Jesus decided to try his luck with Mary Magdalene. 

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John Barbieri
5 years ago
YoU have it just about right, Father Jim!
Bruce Snowden
5 years ago
Right on Father Martin, that’s how things often seem to be! If the Apostles had really acted that way Chesterton’s words, “Christianity hasn’t failed, it hasn’t been tried” would be a post-ecclesia truism. Then the Church which might have been, would have withered in the grip of a kind of verifiable Chestertonian prophetic syndrome meaning worst of all, there would be no Jesuit Pope Francis, a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe! Briefly (very hard for me!) I think charismatics have it right, showing how to be Christian–ENTHUSIASM in a word! In the Father’s house they sing, dance, clap hands prayerfully, thoroughly enjoying their Faith and eager to spread the Word. They make the Good News GOOD. I think at Pentecost’s Upper Room shocker, the same thing pretty much happened. Windswept Fire pushed the Apostles out of hiding and like charismatics they enthusiastically and joyfully professed Faith . I think its redundant (something I'm good at!) to say, a wimpy Christian is as useful as a dead jellyfish! A lot of us at least at times (put me in that mix) tend to float like dead jellyfish in Baptismal water, out of sync with the charismatic heartbeat of Jesus. But one day it dawned on me that what happens among charismatics, I mean fired-up Christians, happened daily when returning home from work, to others too. Little ones jumping for joy, clapping their hands and shouting, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” Or perhaps, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” Our Lord’s words jumped into place, “Unless you become as little children …”. Yes, in Faith we’ve got to be like “little children.”To use a “Martinian” word, Faith will become “mirthful” as we all clap our hands, dance around evangelistically shouting “Abba! Abba! Abba!” freely translated as “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” Simple, or simplistic? Yeah, like the Gospels I hope simple.

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