Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Lectionary: 294

“A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.”
So some of his disciples said to one another, “What does this mean that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’

In today’s account of the Last Supper, Jesus speaks a riddle to his befuddled disciples and they respond accordingly, “What does this mean?”

Riddles have an ancient respectability in our religion and culture. Often they are used to give sage advice. I sometimes tell elderly Veterans the Riddle of the Sphinx to encourage them to use a cane. That’s not the point of the riddle but it suggests this high-tech device has been around a very long time. The hero Samson flummoxed his Philistine enemies with a riddle in Judges 14.

Riddles intrigue and challenge the mind to consider imponderable mysteries. They remind us of our helplessness because the questioner knows the answer and, try as we will, we cannot answer it. We really have no clue until the answer is given, and then it’s obvious! It is, of course, a perfect tool for Saint John the Divine! 

Jesus predicts his death and resurrection with today’s riddle. To every bible school child after the fact the answer is obvious; but before the fact the disciples are stumped.

We do well to return in imagination to that moment before Jesus was arrested to consider the disciples’ dilemma. Certainly we could not expect to understand Jesus any better than they did. “Had we been there…” our response would have been the same: “What does this mean that he is saying to us? “

In other words, if I think I understand the resurrection and what it means, I am almost certainly a fool. My apparently “superior wisdom” has given me no advantage.
We cannot know God's mind but Faith is willing to stand in the blinding light of revelation and ask, “What does this mean?” 

Sometimes people recite their catechism answers like children caught in the blinding light of the bathroom at midnight. They are holding their hands on their faces against the light, allowing only a sliver to stab through their fingers, and saying, “Okay, now I see what you mean!”

But they don’t see anything. They have only managed to contain a particle of Truth in a tiny jewelry box where it will be treasured and forgotten.

Before they get the riddle, the disciples will be blinded by the revelation of Easter. They will assume the women who report his resurrection are hysterical; they will think his appearance is a ghost; they will insist upon touching his wounded hands and side before they believe. They will gather in the Upper Room after his Ascension, still pondering what does this mean.

Only the Holy Spirit can reveal its meaning to us as we permit ourselves to be blind with joy.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.