Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sermon for Easter 3 - St. Luke 24:36-49

What is so important about a piece of broiled fish that St. Luke thought it necessary to record it in his Gospel? The fish that would have been caught in the Sea of Galilee in the time of Jesus were nothing special. The main staple that was fished from the sea were sardines. The other was a fish known as the Barbel for the barbs at the corners of their mouths. So that is probably what the fish were. And the method of cooking them - St. Luke even records that. Broiling is, of course, nothing more than cooking something over/under direct heat - in this case, the fish. So broiled fish - no big deal - nothing very earth-shaking - sardines and bread - a basic meal among the people of that time. No doubt they had eaten that exact same meal in their lives thousands of times.  And that is what the disciples were doing on that Sunday evening - the Sunday of the Resurrection – they were making dinner – having something to eat: some regular old broiled fish. What else, after all, was there really to do?
Even in the midst of the most extraordinary events going on around us: the everyday, mundane things of life keep going on - they have to. Life happens - it doesn’t end when something extraordinary happens. We have to sleep, we have to get dressed, we have to go to work. We have to broil fish and have something to eat to feed our children, to keep ourselves alive. Such is life – day in and day out – it is the menial tasks – the mundane things – that make up so very much of our lives.
So it was for the disciples. Even after all that had happened - life had to go on. But into the menial tasks of the disciples’ lives - into their cowering together in that room, pondering the strange news they had heard, and making themselves dinner - suddenly Jesus was there. 
Jesus Who they betrayed and deserted. Jesus Who was whipped and beaten. Jesus Who was tortured and nailed to a Roman cross. Jesus Who was dead and buried. Jesus Whose heart was pierced with grief and a Roman spear. There He was. And they are terrified for they think He is a spirit - a ghost - perhaps even seeking vengeance. 
But He tells them to look at His hands and feet - to feel His Body - that it is flesh and bone. And then the most menial of things becomes desperately important - a piece of broiled fish. “Have you any food here?” He asks them. And taking the piece of fish He ate it before them to calm their fear. The most menial of things reveals that Jesus is not a spirit - His Resurrection is very physical. He is there with them like He had been - in the flesh - risen just as He said. The extraordinary is revealed in the most ordinary.
Into the ordinary - the mundane - the menial things of your lives, Jesus comes too, and assures you that He is risen for you just as He said - that He is no spirit - no ghost, but your living Savior: true God but also true Man of flesh and bone Who comes to you to calm your fears.
In fact, Jesus comes in such menial, mundane ways, it is very easy for us to despise them. We want God to come to us in grand, flashy, amazing ways that knock us over. And there are churches and pastors that are more than happy to try and meet people’s sinful desires to have a ‘god’ like that. 
They might put on a flashy rock and roll floorshow, complete with videos, a light show, and dancers. They might tell you to look for miraculous healing or great gifts of wealth that show that you really are faithful and ‘god’ really is blessing you. They might tell you that if you aren’t getting these great blessings - that you are doing something wrong - not being faithful enough - or lacking something that you have to figure out, somehow, to get them.
But God does not reveal Himself to us in the grand, the flashy, and the amazing. He does not promise us health and wealth in this world. He reveals Himself in Suffering and in the Cross and, indeed, He promises us that we will have troubles and crosses to carry, too. 
But it is precisely right in the midst of those troubles and those crosses - that He is present for and with you - He Who bore the Cross of all your sin. And it is precisely in the mundane, menial things of life that He is found: in the man who witnesses of Christ’s love while he is dying of heart disease - in the woman who joyfully changes her child’s diapers because of Christ living in her - in the teacher who works for next to nothing in a Christian school so that children might learn of Christ - in the woman who forgives the friend who hurt her because she believes in the forgiveness of her sin at the cross - in the soldier who quietly does his duty with honor because he recognizes the authority that God has placed him under.
In all these things: the ordinary, menial, mundane things of life - the joys, and the sorrows and the crosses - there is Jesus revealing Himself risen for you - forgiving, loving, comforting and calming you. He shows you in these things that He is risen - that He is living - that His forgiveness is for all the nations - it is for you. He gives dignity and joy to all the little things of your life - even grilling a piece of fish.

1 comment:

  1. Nice sermon, Fr. Anderson. I enjoyed reading it. Post more.