Daily Reflection
April 14th, 2004
Joan Blandin Howard
University College
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The joy of foolishness

The sacred, joyful ritual of the Passover meal of last week is almost forgotten. The bloodied cross of execution taken down, thrown aside, lies heaped with the others. The anointed body, laid to rest in the tomb, is no longer there. The grieving faithful women gather together to weep and mourn. The men, companions of Jesus, disperse in confusion and fear.  Gossip and rumor fill the market place. The Jewish community of Jerusalem will never be the same.
It is reported that one of the women has seen “a vision of angels who announce that he is alive.”  But he is nowhere to be found and the tomb is empty.  “He must be somewhere.” “Someone must have taken the body.”  “Bodies don’t just disappear.”  “Hysterical women, what do you expect?”  “We were really hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” “How could we be so foolish!?”   I can only image the hushed whispers and low grumblings of the market place as confusion, fear, doubt and disillusionment grow, spread, and infect the people.

On the perimeter of the chaos, there is one man, presumably a stranger, for he is apparently completely unaware of the crucifixion of Jesus the Nazarene.  Joining two of the disciples on their journey away from Jerusalem to Emmaus, the stranger encourages their discussion of the recent events.  Dumfounded by his ignorance and deeply entangled in their own fears, doubts and disappointments they do not recognize the Lord. “Their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.”  They were “looking downcast.”  Their hopes and dreams were apparently dashed.

Well into the seven mile walk to Emmaus, the stranger interrupts, “Oh, how foolish you are!  How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke.”  He reminds them of their own sacred scripture and theology.  Gradually in the retelling of their own salvation stories, they begin to hear once again the message of Jesus.  They invite the stranger to stay with them and share a meal.  It is during the meal, the familiar breaking of the bread and the blessing of it, that “their eyes were opened and they recognized him.”  “They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way…”

Fear, doubt, disappointment, disillusionment are very real temptations.  Life went on in the days following the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  Life and resurrection went on in the days following the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  Life and resurrection go on in our days following Lent, Holy Week and Easter. 

Joy is this burning in the heart.  It is the heightened consciousness of the presence of God.  It is that which allows me to experience the fullness of my own potential, to experience my own true self.   In joy I am able to look up and to see and then to witness to the Lord.  This is the gift of the resurrection – the gift of myself to me.  In joy, not fear, the two disciples “set out at once and returned to Jerusalem.”  

Two weeks ago, here in Omaha, we had a late winter, early spring heavy wet snowfall.  As I was slogging through the icy mush, concerned about the wellbeing of my shoes, I happened to glance up.  I was absorbed into the grandeur of the beauty presented.  The sky a clear brilliant cobalt blue, the snow stacked 3 inches high on budding tree limbs dazzled the eye, while robins and cardinals serenaded passersby.  My eyes had been opened.  My heart burned with joy. In a split second, for a split second, I had been redeemed …again. Oh, the joy of my foolishness!
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