After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples, but his appearances are occasional and fleeting. None of the resurrection accounts say he stayed long with them. He appears to verify he is risen. “Do not cling to me,” he says to Mary Magdalene, who hears him call her name.Thomas puts his finger in the nail marks and his hand in his wounded side; then he is gone. The disciples eat with him, but he doesn’t stay with them. The words of scripture remind them of him.The two at Emmaus know him mainly in the breaking of the bread.
Now they will see him in another way–through signs, like bread and wine, water, in gatherings where they remember him, in reading the scriptures which speak of him, in the poor and suffering, wounded like him. It’s as if he were weaning them away from seeing him bodily. That will be the way he remains with them–through signs– and that’s the way he remains with us now.
Christian teachers like Cyril of Jerusalem emphasize this way of knowing Jesus, through signs. We are told not to miss their importance:
“When we were baptized into Christ and clothed in him, we were transformed into the likeness of the Son of God…we are rightly called ‘the anointed ones.’”
God’s Spirit rested on him and sent him forth. Now God’s Spirit dwells in us and sends us on a mission. We don’t have a mission that weighs us down. The oil that anointed us at baptism is an “ oil of gladness,” raising us up.
These Easter days offer a world of signs that lead us to Jesus Christ; they also make us one with him.
What about the “signs of the times?” Don’t forget them.They lead us on too. I like what Sister Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, says about them. “The signs of our time propel the living tradition forward.”