Easter 3

Four days ago, Haley Joel Osment turned 30 years old.  Remember him from the Sixth Sense and then from nothing of note after that?  So I’m going to go on the premise that you’ve all either seen the Sixth Sense or at least know the plot twist, but spoiler alert anyway: Haley Joel Osment could see dead people.  But remember that when you first saw the movie, you didn’t know that until well into the story, and so despite following along and taking it in and perhaps noticing some clues along the way, it took the revelation of “I see dead people” to make the whole thing make sense.  Once you know that the preternaturally mature little kid can see dead people, everything in the Sixth Sense just sort of falls into place.


“Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures…”  This is essentially how St. Luke wraps up his Gospel.  In one chapter, Luke goes from the big plot twist, the Resurrection, through a couple of Jesus sightings to the Ascension in 50 verses.  There’s not a lot of narrative in all of this, but you might recognize the story of the Road to Emmaus, on which Jesus joined two of His disciples, though they didn’t recognize Him; Jesus walks with them, explains the Scriptures, and then the disciples recognized Jesus when blessed and broke the bread at dinner.  As soon as they recognized Him, He poofed out of their site, which must have been pretty awesome, really.  So those two disciples run back to Jerusalem to tell the Big 11 Disciples what had happened, and as soon as they finished their story, Poof, there was Jesus again.


That must have been pretty awesome as well, but admittedly a little frightening.  If I was there, I would have wondered how long had Jesus been there.  Did I say anything bad about Him, make fun of His hair or something?  Luke tells us that they were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  But Jesus was not a ghost or a zombie or a golem – He was Himself, flesh and bones, with an appetite for broiled fish, risen from the dead.


But Jesus wasn’t there to just say hi or to prove once again that He really was alive.  He was there to open their minds to the Scriptures, to help them connect the dots.  Jesus helped them find that all of Scripture, the whole Bible as they knew it, found its fulfillment in Him.  As Scott Hoezee put it, “Jesus is the Rosetta Stone of Scripture (if not of all reality)—if you know who he really is, you see how within his own person and ministry and now resurrected presence every thread, every strand, every story, every promise, every prophecy winds and wends its way straight to him.


“Apparently that is all (the disciples) will need to know.  All that remains is for them to receive the power that will not only solidify this all in their hearts and minds but will give them the boldness to proclaim the truth of Jesus to the whole world.  That power (in the form, of course, of the Holy Spirit) would come eventually but in the meanwhile and up until then, what Jesus revealed to the hearts and minds of the disciples on that…evening was apparently thee #1 thing that had to happen during those forty post-resurrection days.  Once Luke conveys this to us, he’s finished with the forty days.


“Everything that needed to be shown and told and taught had already taken place, apparently, in Jesus’ ministry as narrated in the whole Gospel up to this point.  All that remained was for the disciples to understand how all that they had experienced in Jesus’ presence represented nothing short of cosmic history coming to a head.  The meaning of the past, the hope for the present, and the content of the future was all inside the resurrected Lord.  Once they understood that (no small thing to grasp, by the way!), there was really nothing more for Jesus to say or do.”[1]


And so here we are, two thousand years later, the inheritors of all that understanding, and so we’ve got an easy time of it, right?  Yeah, right. We certainly have an easier time of it than the disciples did at first – we’re raised with the knowledge that the Hebrew Scriptures are the story of humankind’s interaction with God, all of which finds it consummation in Jesus.  But I’ve got a Master’s degree in all of this and sometimes I feel like I’m wading through the murkiest of waters when trying to grasp the meaning of the Scriptures – it can be like knowing that Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, but not getting that Bruce Willis is dead.


So that’s why we do all the many things we do.  That’s why we hear so much of the Bible during the Mass and at Compline and at the Rosary.  That’s why we depend so much on Church School and Adult Ed and our new Bible Study on Thursdays.  That’s why we prayed today for the Lord to Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold Jesus in all his redeeming work.   You see, none of us can learn and understand the Bible on our own, and even if we could, the joy of learning and understanding it comes from struggling with it together, with Jesus in the midst of us.  So may the Lord open our hearts and minds to His holy word, that knowing His Son as He is revealed to us in Scripture, we may go out into the world as witnesses to these things.

[1] Scott Hoezee, This Week: http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/easter-3b-2/?type=the_lectionary_gospel

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