The Gospel according to Winnie the Pooh

Domhnall Gleeson and Will Tilston in "Goobye Christopher Robin" (Photo by David Appleby © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Poor St. Thomas! He finds it hard to believe that Jesus is alive again. That is understandable because people do not usually come back from the dead. No matter how much we love them or would wish they could. And it’s certainly not Thomas’ fault that he had not read Winnie the Pooh. Like the Gospels, it had not yet been written. If St. Thomas could have read any of these stories, he would have understood the way love works.

When Tigger first looks in a mirror, he does not know that he is seeing himself, so he says: “I’ve found somebody just like me. I thought I was the only one of them.” Jesus loved his disciples, and they loved him. His friends found in Jesus something they had been looking for all their lives. They found their true selves.

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And Jesus said something poohish to his disciples on the night before he died. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” Pooh said. That is why the Lord Jesus gave himself to them under the appearance of bread and wine. It was his way of saying, as Christopher Robin once said to Pooh, “Forever isn’t long at all when I’m with you” and “We could just be we; forever you and me.”

Holy Communion is Jesus’ way of saying, as Christopher Robin once said to Pooh, “Forever isn’t long at all when I’m with you.”

Of course, as one grows up, it’s harder to believe such a thing—“Even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.” But that is exactly what Jesus says to us this Second Sunday of Easter, in this season of so many first holy Communions. He is with us. He will always be with us. It is like Pooh says, “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”

Jesus first entered our lives when we were baptized. Most of us were infants at the time, too little to recognize him. But in baptism, what is even more important than our choosing Jesus is his choosing us. When Winnie the Pooh saw Christopher Robin put on his boots, he knew an adventure was going to happen. That what Jesus thought, too, when we were brought to him for baptism.

Our first holy Communion, and every holy Communion that follows, it much like the moment when St. Thomas recognized his risen Lord. Holy Communion is the Lord’s way of saying that we need never be apart from him in our lives. He will always be there for us. As Pooh puts it, “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”

This is why when people are sick, they are so happy to receive Jesus as Eucharist. It is why when people are frightened or troubled, they often slip into a quiet, weekday church to pray in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the tabernacle. It is a bit like Piglet and Pooh:

“Pooh!” he whispered
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” taking Pooh’s paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

The Lord is always here for us in the holy communion that we call the church; in the holy Communion that we celebrate with every Eucharist; and in the holy Communion that silently awaits us in every tabernacle. Should Jesus have found a more glorious, a more obvious way to be with us? As Winner the Pooh said, “Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart.”

Readings: Acts 5:12-16 Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 John 20: 19-31

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Jerome Kiley
1 month ago

Great reflection, thanks.

Jeffrey More
1 month ago

[Uncharitable comment removed as violation of comments policy]

Paul Cadrin
1 month ago

And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3.

Jason & Amy Rogers
1 month ago

I don't know what Ignatius of Loyola would think of this essay. And I have no comment on the use of simplified or pop culture imagery to convey theological concepts. What I do know for sure is that internet commentary framed in such hostile, inflammatory language sows discord, anger, and sorrow in the world, rather than peace, community, or a search for mutual understanding.

Dr. Geraldine Kerr
1 month ago

Thank you so much for this reflection that creates resonance for both the adult and the child within. I especially appreciate the focus on Jesus choosing us at baptism and wanting to remain with us through all the adventures of our lives. What a refreshing visualization. In a world filled with far too much fear, criticism, judgment, and insensitivity toward others, I treasure this lighthearted yet poignant article. Thanks so much, Dr. Kerr

Diane Tomlinson
4 weeks 1 day ago

This reflection brought tears to my eyes. Absolutely beautiful.

Tim Donovan
4 weeks 1 day ago

Although I draw like a child (stick figures, essentially, at age 57) my creative side is playing the flute. I love music, and remember well the hymn at my First Holy Communion in 1969: "The Living God." Although my practice of our faith has waxed and waned over the years, I always felt an uneasy guiltiness when I received Jesus in the Eucharist unworthily. As an admitted sinner (aren't most of us?) for several years I''ve been sure to receive the Eucharist only following the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation each month. I will always recall the words of my First Communion hymn, and the childlike emotion of the verses, "I received the Living God, and my heart is full of joy..." Although I don't claim to understand transubstantiation, the 7 year old child in me is "full of joy" each time I receive Jesus' Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity miraculously brought from the bread and wine by the actions of the priest who celebrates Mass.

Tim Donovan
4 weeks 1 day ago

Although I draw like a child (stick figures, essentially, at age 57) my creative side is playing the flute. I love music, and remember well the hymn at my First Holy Communion in 1969: "The Living God." Although my practice of our faith has waxed and waned over the years, I always felt an uneasy guiltiness when I received Jesus in the Eucharist unworthily. As an admitted sinner (aren't most of us?) for several years I''ve been sure to receive the Eucharist only following the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation each month. I will always recall the words of my First Communion hymn, and the childlike emotion of the verses, "I received the Living God, and my heart is full of joy..." Although I don't claim understandtransubstantiation

FRAN ABBOTT
4 weeks 1 day ago

Thank you so much, Fr. Klein. This is an absolutely beautiful essay. Time for me to revisit the Pooh!

Will Nier
3 weeks 5 days ago

Perfecto. This should be shouted loudly in every parish Church. Thank you for breaking open His Word.

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