From January to April, we live between the timesbetween Christmas and Easter, Bethlehem and Golgotha, Incarnation and Resurrection. What strikes me about the Gospel accounts of Christmas and Easter are the varied ways in which God works. In the Incarnation, God masterminds the announcement of the good news of the birth of Christ. He sends prophets well in advance to foretell the coming of the Messiah. He commissions an angel to announce the birth to a virgin. He sets a new star in the heavens to summon wise men from the East. He sends a company of singing angels to pronounce Christ's birth to the shepherds in the fields. He quickens Anna the prophetess to declare the arrival of the Messiah on his day of circumcision. Though Christ was born in a lowly manger, there was nothing quiet about his birth.
Quite the contrary with the Resurrection. Yes, an angel comes to roll away the stone from Jesus' tomb, but this grand miracle takes place with little pomp and circumstance. No angels sing hymns in the heavens, no stars appear in the East, no wise men set out on pilgrimage, no prophetess pronounces the good news. For 40 days after the Resurrection, Christ flits in and out of space and time, appearing only occasionally to a few followers. Then he ascends quietly into heaven.
What is even more striking is how his followers consistently fail to recognize him, and, more importantly, the variety of ways in which God makes it possible for them to apprehend him.
Mary Magdalene, weeping outside the empty tomb, has to be called by name before she recognizes Christ. Before that, she thought he was a gardener.
Ten disciples, gathered in a room in sorrow and fear, need Christ to breathe his peace on them before they recognize him. Before ...1