22 April 2019

After the End (Reprise)

After Jesus' resurrection there are a series of "resurrection appearances" which serve to allow Jesus' disciples to come to know a living Christ and claim the new lives of those who now know that nothing at all, up to and including godless death, can separate us from the love of God. One of the most touching stories belonging to the Easter appearances is that of Peter's "rehabilitation" and recommissioning by Jesus. It is a continuation of the story begun yesterday as Jesus meets Peter and the other disciples while they are fishing but can catch nothing without him.

Peter, as impulsive as ever jumps into the sea to come to Jesus whom he recognizes as "the Lord".  How familiar to each of us is the regret and shame captured in the line, "In Peter's dreams, the cock still crowed"! I love the title of the following poem because on Good Friday it really was the end for any disciple of Jesus. Only on Easter Sunday is there forgiveness and a solution to both guilt and shame. Only on Easter Sunday is there a new beginning, a new creation, a new world with a new Lord. Only on Easter are the disciples given new and abundant lives and missions in the power and Name of the Risen Christ. John Shea does such a wonderful job of conveying this, not only with Peter, but with the disciples on the road to Emmaus and Mary of Magdala as well.

Like her friend
she would curse the barren tree
and glory in the lilies of the field.
She lived in noons and midnights
in those mounting moments
of high dance
when blood is wisdom and flesh love.
But now, before the violated cave
on the third day of her tears
she is a black pool of grief
spent upon the earth.
They have taken her dead Jesus,
unoiled and unkissed
to where desert flies and worms
more quickly work.
She suffers wounds that will not heal
and enters into the pain of God
where lives the gardener
who once exalted in her perfume
knew the extravagance of her hair
and now asks whom she seeks.

In Peter's dreams, the cock still crowed.
He returned to Galilee to throw nets into
the sea and watch them sink
like memories into darkness.

He did not curse the sun
that rolled down his back
or the wind that drove the fish
beyond his nets.
He only waited for the morning 
when the shore mist would lift
and from his boat he would see him.
Then after naked and impetuous swim
with the sea running from his eyes,
he would find a cook with holes in his hands
and stooped over dawn coals
who would offer him the Kingdom of God
for breakfast.

On the road that escapes Jerusalem
and winds along the ridge to Emmaus
two disillusioned youths
dragged home their crucified dream.
They had smelled "messiah" in the air
and rose to that scarred and ancient hope
only to mourn what might have been.
And now a sudden stranger
falls upon their loss
with excited words about mustard seeds
and surprises hidden at the heart of death
and that evil must be kissed upon the lips
and that every scream is redeemed for
it echoes in the ear of God,
and do you not understand:
what died upon the cross was fear.
They protested their right to despair,
but he said, "My Father's laughter fills
the silence of the tomb."
Because they did not understand,
they offered him food,
and in the breaking of the bread
they knew the imposter for who he was:
the arsonist of the heart.

After the end comes the conspiracy
of gardeners, cooks and strangers.

by John Shea, STD