Divine teaser-consoler

GOD'S WORD TODAY - Manuel V. Francisco, S.J. -

In our ordinary, day-to-day life, we often fail to feel and recognize the presence of the Risen Jesus and his divine sense of humor. We tend to picture him always in a serious or somber way, and yet, we as human beings are the only creatures in this world who are gifted with a sense of humor, which is no less than a divine attribute. How many paintings and pictures of Jesus have you seen where he is smiling or laughing? Practically none! That is why in my office, I have a vere precious, rare, and colored picture of the smiling Jesus, and I don’t even remember now where it came from.

In today’s Gospel narrative (Lk. 24: 13-25), we experience the human-divine Jesus as teaser and consoler, not only with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, but with each one of us. Let us first go back to those two disciples. They felt so lost and hopeless, for all their expectations ended in defeat and nothingness. You can just imagine how they were unburdening their inner pains to each other as they were walking. The Risen Jesus came to their rescue, but they did not recognize him. He led them to understand the meaning of the passion, death, and resurrection events, until they felt deeply consoled and at peace. So much so that they invited him to their home, and he accepted the invitation. It was then at table when “he took bread, said the blessing, and gave it to them” that they recognized him, “but he vanished from their sight.” The divine teaser-consoler indeed.

Similarly, he related to his apostles and other disciples, including his women followers, as we read in the Gospels. For one, Mary Magdalen was weeping inconsolably when the Risen Jesus appeared to her, but she mistook him for the gardener. After a while, he calls her by her name in a way that she finally recognized him. “Mary,” he said. “Rabboni,” she answered back, deeply consoled. Teaser-consoler. (Jn. 20: 11-18).

Again, the doubting Thomas was overwhelmingly consoled when the Risen Jesus finally faced him and said, “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.” “My Lord and my God,” Thomas exclaimed. Jesus then addresses all other disciples, including you and me. “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (Jn. 20: 24-29). And the climax of it all was what he told all his disciples, after their final commissioning: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28: 20)

This is what the divine teaser-consoler is saying to each one of us, his disciples of today. And for us to really feel and experience his presence everyday, everywhere, no matter what we are going through, be it light or darkness, success or failure, joy or pain, we must once and for all develop that gift which the Risen Christ has given us, but very often underdeveloped by us: the gift of contemplation, of becoming contem-platives-in-action. The language of the heart. An inner awareness that the Risen Lord is our constant companion, and he is actively present, both within us and all around us.

As I am writing these lines, I cannot help but feel the presence of the loving God within me, and in the beautiful singing of the birds in those giant, aged trees outside my window. I just stop, look, and listen. The beauty and the bounty of creation is just amazing. The various kinds, shapes, designs of trees, leaves, plants, and flowers. Their stunning colors under the magnificent sunlight. From a distance, I can hear dogs barking and cocks crowing. How the Creator orchestrates all these together in harmony through his sustaining presence is simply beyond words to describe. You simply have to feel and experience his presence in your heart, and not just in your mind.

During the darkest moments of your life, when you feel abandoned and forgotten by the Risen Lord, these are precisely the moments when you owe it to yourself to wake up and be aware in your heart that he is there, carrying you, and will never leave you, through thick and thin. The seeming absence of Christ the teaser moves to the loving presence of Christ the consoler.

Moreover, his presence is very much felt in every human person who is able to reach out to others through his/her love. Where love is, there the Risen Christ is, for Christ is love. Contemplate this couple who, inspite of their personality differences, are able to reach out to each other’s emotional needs because of their love for each other. What about that construction worker and his laundry-woman wife who both work so hard just to be able to send their children to school. Take that surgeon who operates on seriously-sick patients to save their lives and bring them back to health. What about that dedicated barangay captain who, with moral integrity, gives his best for love of country?

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28: 20).

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