Reconciling everything – The Holy Trinity


Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Psalm 8, Matthew 28:16-20

Once upon a time, the good book tells us, heaven and earth, that is, God’s creation, had it all together. God said, ‘It was good… it was good, … it was very good.’ (Genesis 1: 4,10,12,18,25,31). The first account of creation in Genesis appeals to us and challenges us because we recognise that the world we know is not so good: it is marred, fractured.

We see the degradation of the environment, even Covid-19 is a result of the unwanted collision of wild animals and humans. We feel the rupture of relationships, our own and those around us. Ultimately the cause of this broken world is a mystery, but we can be sure that God means to mend and restore creation.

The Gospel tells the astounding news that we are part of this great project of bringing heaven and earth back together.

Matthew recounts how Jesus led the Eleven up a mountain. For Matthew, going up the mountain meant two things: on the mountaintop we experience the power of God, and secondly, on the mountain, Jesus, like Moses before him, teaches about the reality of God.

So we are there with the Eleven on the mountaintop to experience something of God’s power and to open ourselves, week by week, to God’s teaching. Like the Eleven, we both ‘worship and doubt’ (v.17). We are human beings after all. But our power to believe or not it is not relevant.

‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me,’ Jesus states (v.18). The extraordinary claim of the Gospels is that the Risen Jesus has all God’s authority. We can be tempted to domesticate Jesus and turn him into a harmless friend. The reality, however, is that Jesus acts with power in our lives.

Simone Weil

The French philosopher Simone Weil (1909-1943) was born to agnostic Jewish parents. From her childhood, she took seriously the teaching of Jesus to love one’s neighbour as one’s self. After a lifetime of activism loving her neighbour, she was drawn more deeply into the life of Jesus, experiencing his power in a series of prayer experiences. Weil’s book, Waiting for God, has become a spiritual classic. After reading George Herbert’s poem ‘Love III’, she wrote, ‘Christ himself came down and took possession of me.’ These experiences transformed her into ‘a great spirit’ recognised by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Our journey may not be as extreme as Simone Weil’s, but the reality of Jesus’ power in our lives shapes us also to be instruments of healing.

So Matthew reminds the Eleven – and us – of the colossal enterprise to which Jesus calls us: the healing of earth and heaven. We, the community of the faithful, are called to teach all nations his commandments, those of love and healing.

And the best of the Good News is that Jesus ‘will be with us always, to the end of the age.’ (v.20).

Reunion and Reconciliation – Statue by Josefina de Vasconcellos at Bradford University

Creation, Re-creation and Spirit


Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Acts 2:1-21

It’s happening again. God is repeating history.

In the Biblical languages. ‘breath’, ‘Spirit’ and ‘wind’ are the same word.

God breathes into the man of mud and he becomes a living breath (Genesis 2:7). Or you can read it:  At creation, God breathes his Spirit into a human being, and he became a living spirit.

Not just human beings, but every living thing.

Psalm 104 paints a spectacular picture of all of the Lord’s ‘manifold works’: the heavens ‘stretched out like a tent-cloth’ (v.3), ‘the earth on its foundations’ (v. 6), the sea and the mountains (vv. 7 and 9), wild and domestic animals (v. 12), the birds (v. 13), and the water and food to provide for them all. Human beings have a place to work (v.25).  

God’s world is a supremely fertile and attractive universe. And it all depends on God breathing God’s Spirit:

When you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit they are created. (Psalm 104:29b-30).

So on the first Pentecost, God was doing both a new thing and repeating an old thing. God was breathing His Spirit into human beings and all creation, and giving them new life.

But there’s more. The first human being was an individual, Adam. At Pentecost, communities spring to life, not just as individuals; a community of disciples able to pass on the word of Jesus – the first Church members. An even larger community of listeners is brought into being. Its separate components are listed:

Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,  Cretans and Arabs…’ (Acts 2:9-11)

In other words, the whole known world is gathered into a community. They are gathered by hearing the same language: the very opposite of the scattering into mutually incomprehensible language groups at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). Community happens where we talk to each other and understand each other.

The Spirit still breathes into our lives, gathering us into communities. During these strange days of pandemic, for example, members of the St Mary’s community in Busselton have continued the enormous task of providing meals three days a week for those who need them. As they work together, Spirit is breathed into the workers to gather them closer to each other, and the people who come to the Family Centre are also held in community.

‘God is faithful’ (I Corinthians 1:9), so we can expect God’s breath to breathe into us again and again, bringing us new life and gathering us into godly communities. This is the promise of Pentecost.

Trade Wind


The eucalyptus was growing darker in colour. Leaves and limbs stood nearly black, giving the tree sharp definition even against the darkening storm-cloud behind. The swirling nimbo-cumulus filled the sky almost down to the horizon where a small sliver of grey light brightened the line of charcoal sea. Smaller trees bent to the will of the winds and the foliage of the big tree was ruffled, as if the tree tried to stay aloof from the coming storm.

The sandy path seemed to lead directly into the surf. Tousle-headed low scrub filled both sides of the path. A few brittle twigs cracked and fell to the ground. The gathering darkness brought with it the heaviness of moisture in the air.

The watching warrior felt within for any signs of life nearby. There were no magpies singing or seagulls squawking. The animal kingdom was silent as if there were not enough breath for voice. They were invisible, too: Bunyitch sensed snakes huddled in holes, possums and birds sheltered under the umbrellas of the eucalypt foliage, wading birds and wallabies pressed into thickets of mallee. The path was evidence of people, but they, along with their fellow creatures, were for now invisible, and silent. Bunyitch could not feel any of his mob with his mind.

The trees, though, knew that such compressed energy would some time be released, and they too waited.

Far off, where the great roiling cloud met the black line of the sea, and where the small sliver of light brightened the world, there was movement; movement contrary to the movement of wind and cloud. It appeared first as a little white dot bobbing westwards along the horizon. It appeared to be skating the line, neither part of the sky nor part of the sea.

As Bunyitch focussed and waited for the seeing to come, as he had been taught, he could make out a shape – a thick black horizontal line surmounted by squares of white. At this distance the shape was smaller than his fingernail.

A wadullah canoe,’ he thought, and worried. This was the first one that Bunyitch had seen, and despite his stillness he could feel the worry of the elders almost as clearly as if sitting around the fire and listening to them discuss the coming of the ghosts. The ghosts on board just one of their ships like the one now labouring in the bay numbered more than the total of the handful of family groups that comprised his mob. And they had seen half a dozen of these big canoes in the bay and off the wild sea coast since the last moon.

If these ghosts were allowed to come ashore to stay, none of the elders could tell the impact their arrival would make on the Wardan people; but there would be an impact, and a heavy one. The elders had pointed out to Bunyitch that their canoes were made so large not by magic, but by human skill. His people could use that skill and share their own. The ghosts seemed to have little sight or hearing and could not sense each other across the country. The elders believed these were skills they could fruitfully trade. On the other hand, the Wardan had heard from beyond the far boundaries of Noongar country that where the ghosts had come ashore in other places they had taken women and caused wars.

Bunyitch was indistinguishable from the trunk of the tree next to him, lightly leaning on two spears, his khaki heel pressed against the black skin of the side of his knee.  He could stand guard here for ever.

A feeling of alien distress crowded out any sense of friends. Looking out into the bay, Bunyitch watched as the lines of the brigantine resolved themselves. Huge waves were throwing themselves at the ship, some tearing at the great sails. The warrior could see the tiny ghosts running back and forth on the deck, and he felt their cries. Any sound from this distance was drowned out by a large crack, followed by a sheet of white lightning and the deep boom which made the warrior’s thighs tremble.

All seemed to explode as the trees wildly bent and swayed, rain dropped like hard stones, and the cloud turned itself inside and out again. The warrior knew the power of these storms across the bay, but he himself was unmoved. He looked to where the horizon had been a moment before and waited – calmly amongst the agitation of the storm – for his seeing to return.

The boat was now closer and heaving horribly in the huge waves. Bunyitch closed his eyes and felt for the power of the storm. The wind, which had started in the west, now turned savagely south and waves like huge rolls of darkness carried the boat haplessly towards the warrior.

The wadullah canoe seemed to be racing towards him. The ghosts now were screaming, running, kneeling, and grabbing one another and the rigging and stays, their terror hitting against Bunyitch’s calm mind like a white wall. The canoe seemed one moment to be travelling faster than the monster wave following behind it. Next moment, the whole ship had turned at right angles and was barrelling under the curl of the wave like a surfer bent on earning a ten for technique.

The warrior closed his eyes again and felt inward. He made a great effort. When he opened his eyes again, no wadullah canoe was to be seen. It had not broken up in the surf or on the hard beach. It was not among the waves subsiding after the peak of the storm. He had sent it back to where it came from.

The Glory is God


1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11

At the Busselton foreshore I watched my four grandchildren spread over the playground in the shape of a shipwreck. They laughed as they climbed through rigging and tunnels to the crow’s nest.  They squealed with delight as a slide and a ‘fireman’s pole’ brought them down in a rush of speed. They rollicked in sand; they splashed in water. The kids shouted with joy, their imaginations and bodies nourished by the playground’s brilliant design.

I look forward to the time post-Covid-19 when they may return to the ship playground.

The youngest kids, I am sure, believe that this ship was created just for them. As they grow, they will realise that the playground was built, not just for them, but for all kids who visit the foreshore, even those they don’t like! Soon enough, they will recognise that the City of Busselton, who provided the ship, provides roads and libraries and dog pounds for everyone.

Sitting there on the edge of the playground, I realise that it is all about the kids, but it is also about something much bigger: how we work together to build a community.

Today is the seventh, and last, Sunday in the Easter season when we cry, ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen!’ Our Gospel readings during the Easter season have so far traced the benefits of the resurrection for humanity and creation:

* we don’t need to be perfect to receive resurrection benefits,

* the risen Good Shepherd cares for us and provides for us,

* the Spirit of the risen Jesus comes to us as an Advocate, companion, and guide on the way.

The keyword for this Sunday is ‘glory’. Easter reveals God’s glory, and ‘we are blessed because that spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God is resting on us.’ [1 Peter 4:14].

If we were children, we might conclude that Easter is all about the godsends provided for human beings by the resurrection. It’s a gift of hope for us; it’s for us to receive eternal life; it’s for us to delight in the community of the faithful. If we were children, it would be quite in order to believe that Easter is all about us.

But we are not children and the good news of Easter is not only about us creatures. Easter is first about God and God’s work in creating a stunningly beautiful universe and blessing it as a resurrection gift for the ages to come. The glory is God’s.

We can get the order wrong. If we put humanity first, then the shadow side of humanity including our cruelty, our negligence, our selfishness can have its full impact and we war with each other and degrade the rest of creation. If we think it is all about human beings, we reap the sinful self-centredness we sow.

What Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel is that he shares in God’s glory because he, Jesus, did God’s will. The disciples – including us – share in the glory of Jesus when we put God first.   

Paraclete presence of the Risen Jesus


John 14:15-21

Many years ago I stood in a court in North Perth charged with ‘Reversing Without Caution’. It was a nerve-wracking experience for a naïve 17-year-old. I felt sick. I shook. I was told, ‘Stand there!’ ‘Don’t speak until the Magistrate asks you to.’ When I did speak, I squeaked. I could not find the words. I felt like a sheep being pushed through a race without really understanding what was happening, except I knew that the stakes were high.

The Police Prosecutor eventually told me that he was withdrawing the charge and I was free to go. I went. It took me some time to work out that I had persuaded the court that another driver was at fault. Lawyer friends later told me how lucky I was.

Magistrate’s Court

What I needed that day was someone with me who knew the courts who could stand next to me, plead my case for me, to explain the proceedings and to re-assure me. I needed an Advocate, or in Greek, the language of the Gospels, a Paraclete. The word literally means ‘someone called to be next to you’.

At the Last Supper, Jesus reassures the disciples that he will continue to be ‘next to them’ after his coming death. They cannot envisage a different mode of presence than the bodily presence of Jesus, the face to face encounter that they had enjoyed to that point. After our self-isolation in the past weeks we may imagine diverse ways of being present one to another a little better than the disciples could.

One thing we have learned in these strange times: whether we are naturally inclined to solitude or we are party-loving people, we all need someone really present to us, someone ‘next to us’. Someone who can be with us in good times and hard, someone to speak up for us, someone to reassure us. Our need for a companion goes deep within us. Our lovers and friends provide this need, but like us they are mortal. There are limits to their companionship. Saint John tells us that Jesus is offering the ongoing, never-ending, companionship of his Spirit.

For the disciples about to be bereft of face to face contact with Jesus, this was good news indeed. For us, especially in times of need, it is also welcome news. We might be waiting anxiously by the phone for the results of medical tests. There might be parts of our family where people are splitting apart. We might be lonely and alone, longing for contact with a loved one outside our region. For all our needs, Jesus has provided the Paraclete, the comforting and strengthening presence of his ever-living Spirit.

This sounds too good to be true. There is only one way to test it: that is, to reach out for it, trusting that God is as a good as God’s word. There may be times when the Spirit’s presence is mediated by a human being’s presence. There may be other times when we just know deep in our hearts that God is with us and God is for us.

The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, is our model for loving one another. Our plan should be to find ways to ‘stand next to’ another person, to reassure that person. The more we are ‘paracletes’ one to another, the more we will be able to experience the Holy Spirit standing next to us.

Advocate – Photo courtesy Catholic Education Office, Sydney

Caravans on the Way


 John 14:1-14

I love the romance of camel caravans trading across deserts and continents in Jesus’ time.

Travel was dangerous, but there were established routes. A caravan of camels, loaded with rich goods, would set out each day. They were guided by a ‘dragoman’; his job was to travel ahead of the caravan to find and prepare the night’s stopping place and return to the caravan and guide it in.

The stopping places were called ‘khans’, which is sometimes translated as ‘inns’, but these inns were nothing like today’s Holiday Inns. A ‘khan’ was a basic circular mud-brick wall enclosing a water supply and spaces for animals and people to sleep. Just places to stop along the journey.

According to Jesus, in his Father’s household, ‘there are many stopping places’. (John 14:2) Jesus compares himself to a dragoman, going ahead of the caravan and preparing each night’s stopping place (John 14:2-3). He returns day by day to guide us there.

Because we regularly read this passage at funerals, we often read it upside down. We think Jesus is telling us about a destination for the dead, a ‘room’ in his Father’s ‘mansion’. That may be true, but it is not the main meaning.

Being a Christian is not so much about the dead as it is about living on the Way. This is strength for times of anxiety, times like the present. The risen Jesus spurs us ‘not to be disturbed’ (John 14:1), because he walks with us on the Way. He prepares our stopping places for us every day (not just at the end of our lives) and guides us to them. He is not simply a companion on the Way: he is the Way (John 14:6)

The Good News is two-fold: Jesus has gone ahead to prepare us a place, so he is a knowledgeable companion, wise in the Way of living. He’s already been this way, through plague and pain. There is nothing that we face that he has not already experienced. Secondly, when we encounter Jesus, we encounter the Father. We don’t need to wait for the appearance of a shadowy God from heaven: God in person, in Jesus, already treads the Way with us.

We know the risen Jesus, both in every act of kindness done to us and accepted by us, and in every act of kindness we do to others. The Way is as simple, and as profound, as that, so ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.’ (John 14:1)

We all like sheep are gone astray (Isaiah 53:6)


One of the tragedies of our times is the war on animals, the war we have been waging for two or three centuries, seizing their territory and subjecting them to ever more inhumane conditions.

Human activity was one of the causes of this year’s bushfires in the Eastern States which took away from koalas much of their habitat. Iconic species such as the Bengali tiger and the white rhinoceros are on the brink of extinction. Presumably the thylacine (the Tasmanian tiger) and the dodo would still be thriving in Tasmania and Mauritius if human beings had not ravaged their living space.

Only a few wild animals thrive under the relentless expansion of human activity. Mobs of kangaroos near my town relish in the green pasture and endless water supplies human beings have created.

We clobber our domestic animals too. In the past decades, more and more cattle have been squeezed into feed-lots, unable to exercise and terrified by their imprisonment. Battery hens are confined to less than a square metre and never see the sky or scratch in the fresh air.

We use horses and dogs for sport. Not only do they strain to entertain us, but our society allows some of their keepers to inflict on them excruciating pain when they are away from public view.

Our treatment of animals shames us human beings.  We are given no licence by Scripture to dominate the environment and crush our fellow-creatures. There is no Biblical excuse for setting ourselves up as gods destroying whatever we will.

We consider ourselves superior to other creatures, but the evidence shows that we do not make a good shepherd. We are cruel and despotic in our treatment of the environment.

In today’s Gospel, John teaches us two things about animals and salvation. The first is that Jesus is the good shepherd. No creature, including us human beings, can put ourselves above other creatures. Jesus is our shepherd, caring for us, and he is the shepherd of all creation, restoring all things, not only the human world.

Secondly, we are called to be part of the community of creatures, living together with animals and ecosystems as our brothers and sisters. This is the great vision of Saint Francis of Assisi: to live in harmony with all life as part of the community of creation.

The Good Shepherd proclaims to us that God will draw into a community all his creation and that we will live in harmony with death adders and scorpions, both of them wild animals Jesus ’was with in the wilderness’ (Mark 1:13a), as we will with cats, horses, and especially dogs, the animals who have co-evolved with us and who are our familiars. 

There are many signs of new life. Most farmers I know are concerned about any animal cruelty and do all in their power to care for their animals. WWF and other organisations keep on reminding us of the plight of the non-human world and establish programs to restore habitat and rescue species. More and more middle-class people express real care for pets. Our Jack Russell Lottie is our little sister, a member of our family. There are new ways of feeding the hungry that do not exploit animals, so I have hope that lifting the poor out of poverty will be done ethically.

The Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks, 1834

[‘We have like sheep gone astray.’ (Isaiah 53:6). Quoted in I Peter 2:25, and in the Introduction to Evening Prayer in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer]

Finding the Plot


They were walking away from the city, just two of them, when they were joined by a third. Chapter 1 of this story is entitled ‘Meeting’, or ‘A Gathering.’ The two share their hopes, their dashed hopes, with the stranger. ‘We had hoped,’ they say.  ‘We had hoped we could find acceptance in the church,’ we say. ‘We had hoped that our fellow believer would forgive and reconcile with us,’ we say. Like the two followers of Jesus, we too have dashed hopes.

The stranger then begins to explain the Bible to the two men. ‘He opens the Scriptures.’ This is Chapter 2, ‘Making Sense of the Bible’. The Scriptures are not just history. They are not just theology. They apply to our day to day experience. They prepare us for an encounter with the living God.

Eventually, the three travellers arrive at Emmaus. The two men assume that this place of rest and hospitality is where they will spend the night. But in the sharing of bread, they recognise the third man. They know him to be Jesus. Chapter 3 is ‘Jesus Reveals Himself’. However, at the moment of recognition, Jesus disappears. There is an elusive quality to the presence of the Risen Christ. Where we might want to pin him down and feed on his presence, Jesus constantly moves us on.

Emmaus is not the resting place the two travellers expected. After their long walk, they are so filled with energy that they run back to Jerusalem to tell the other believers that they have met the risen Lord. Not only that, their understanding of who he is has been deepened by the teaching Jesus has given. This final Chapter is ‘Being Sent’.

The shape of the story is familiar to us from worship. Every Sunday, before the pandemic stopped us, we gathered, the Scriptures were opened to us, bread was broken and shared and we experienced the often elusive presence of the risen Lord with us, and then we were sent out to encourage others on this same journey; this journey away from Good Friday, away from dashed hopes and into the joy and energy of living in the power of the risen One.

Our worship follows the same story line as today’s story of the two travellers going to Emmaus. But just because we can’t gather for worship doesn’t stop us from living out this pattern. We find ways to gather, even if it is remotely by technology. We read and reflect on the Bible and the way it prepares us to encounter God. We read and hear sermons and reflections that are delivered through the internet. The presence of the living Lord still encourages us – to ‘glorify God and enjoy him for ever’ (Westminster Shorter Catechism) and the whole story invites us to declare ‘how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread’.   (Luke 24:35b)

By His Wounds


Alleluia. Christ is Risen!

Thomas wants to see the wounds, to thrust his hand into Jesus’ torn
hands and ruptured side. He wants to know that this Jesus is the same
Jesus who died on the cross.

But this is more than an identity parade for Thomas. Yes, this is
Jesus. But there is something about the wounds themselves that draws
Thomas.

St John’s Gospel compares Jesus to the Passover lamb, the sacrifice
that was made annually to celebrate the freedom of the Jewish people.
Their freedom was conditional: the Jews were under the brutal rule of
the Roman Empire, so the freedom they celebrated was a freedom of the
mind and of the heart. No occupying power could take away their
interior freedom, so it was worth celebrating.

John’s idea is that Jesus is himself the sacrifice. The strange thing
is that, for a sacrifice, Jesus doesn’t fit the expectations of the
Jewish people. The lamb to be sacrificed, according to Exodus 12:5,
must be ‘without blemish’. The New English Translation says that the
lamb must be ‘perfect’.

Jesus’ wounds are significant. He is not an unblemished lamb. He is
marked and disfigured by the wounds of the nails and the spear. 400
years before Jesus, the prophet Isaiah had a flash of insight: ‘By his
wounds we are healed’. (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus the blemished lamb is
offered to God. The empty tomb on Easter morning proclaims that the
blemished offering is accepted by God.

It is good news that, as a sacrifice, Jesus is not ‘perfect’. It means
that we too do not have to be ‘perfect’ to be acceptable to God. We
come to God wounded and scarred by life and we can have confidence
that God loves us, not despite our imperfections, but with our
woundedness and hurt. By our wounds, we are healed.

The Easter proclamation is that heaven is for human beings –
imperfect, blemished, scarred. God does not ask for our perfection;
like Thomas, God asks to see our wounds. God asks for the marks to
prove we have opened ourselves to love, that we have been vulnerable,
and we know the pain that scratches all our attempts to love.

+++

I’ve tried to express this in sonnet form:


Behold, the blemished Lamb of God, and scarred
with unhealed woundings of the nails and spear,
Thomas seeks to know what it was that marred
pure God to now mutilated appear.


Thomas had seen his rising power before,
No question that God could raise the son of Nain,
But why upend complete Prophets and Law
and accept a sacrifice of bloody stain?


And then he saw altar priests cutting throats
and the violent contest of sacred police,
then the deep purpose of the Bible’s quotes:
to bring violence to an end with world’s peace.


The end of religion flashed before Thomas:
in faith and love alone the godly promise.


–       John 20:24-31
–       Luke 7:11-17

The shroud of Turin. Image Kelly P. Kearse was

Five senses for Easter – and a Word


The cup and the bread are held up high so we can see and worship. The bread snaps as it is broken. The white circle lands softly in our palm. We caress the cup as it is handed to us. We taste the wafer and the wine, and the rich sweet aroma of the wine greets us as we drink.

Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell: five senses animate us as we come to Holy Communion. 

And our five senses together trigger a sixth sense: that of memory. The heart of the ritual of Holy Communion brings vividly to mind all the hundreds, or thousands, of celebrations of the Eucharist that we have been part of. For me, they have been in parishes, in cathedrals, in homes, in school chapels and in the bush – everywhere Christians gather for the Lord’s Supper. Our memory reaches further back through generations of Christians to the night Jesus gave bread and wine as a presage of his death.

Salvador Dali – The Last Supper

The memory of that night, the night he was betrayed, the night before he died, is strong, so strong that the events of the Last Supper reach forward into our time. We re-member Jesus, his disciples and his actions, and it’s as if they are happening here now. The scholars call this phenomenon of re-membering anamnesis’ – the very opposite of amnesia.

There’s a paradox at work here. The Eucharist is focused on the material of bread and wine, and yet its heart is the presence of Jesus with us. This presence is in fact an aching, loving absence that Franciscan friar Fr Thaddée Matura calls An Ardent Absence . Some Christians speak of the Real Presence, others of the memorial meal, but the effect is the same. When we touch the bread, we name it the Body of Christ, but we are not touching the actual body of Jesus; the bread somehow invokes his presence with us.

This is the Easter mystery: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Jesus Christ is both absent and truly present.  Only with the consummation of all things at the end of time will the absence and the presence be drawn together into one ubiquitous and unambiguous presence.

This Easter most of us will miss the Eucharist, the touching, the tasting and smelling, the gazing, the hearing. At best we will have disembodied seeing through the medium of a screen. But in these times of quarantine and physical isolation, the risen Lord is even more closely present to us. The Psalmist affirms,

‘The Lord is near to the broken-hearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18)

And there is one rich gift, a gift of the Risen Word, which binds us all together. Words reach across the screen, whether in text like this, or the words spoken by a priest somewhere streaming the Eucharist. Because of Him who is the Word, these words have the power to hold us, to enfold us, to bring us into the presence of the Risen One.

Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!