April 18, 2021; Lk 24:35-48; Third Sunday of Easter
Fred Karger holds the unofficial title of “the world’s greatest party crasher.” Karger has crashed hundreds of high-profile parties and celebrity events. He has suddenly appeared on the stage during the Academy Awards ceremony and has been seen seated next to the Secretary of State at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Karger was not invited to any of these events. He simply showed up to the surprise of everyone. He is confident that he can crash any party. The formula, he says, is simple: Look confident. Pretend that you belong there.
In today’s gospel, Jesus crashes the apostles’ party, although it is not much of a party until he arrives. The apostles were frightened and confused. They knew that they abandoned Jesus during his passion. Now they are hearing reports that the tomb is empty, and two of their number claim seeing Jesus on the road to Emmaus. What do these things mean? The apostles can’t figure it out.
Then Jesus crashes in. He is not expected or invited, but he certainly belongs. The apostles desperately need to hear his greeting of peace. They hunger for the hope that he can provide. When Jesus comes, things change.
Can you remember a time when Jesus crashed your life, a time when you were lost or in need and Jesus made a difference? Maybe it was when you were grieving the death of someone that you loved deeply. For months every day was only emptiness with no energy to move forward. And then one morning, as you held your cup of coffee, you sensed something new, a feeling of hope. You took a deep breath and realized that you were ready to begin the routine of living again. In that moment, Jesus crashed your grief and addressed you with a greeting of peace.
Maybe it happened on the day when you had too much to do, and the children were not cooperating. All afternoon they were teasing with one another in an escalating series of confrontations. Finally, not able to take any more, you cry out, “Cut it out!” Your six-year-old, with a smile that could melt any heart, turns to you and says, “But remember, Mom, we’re worth it.” You had not invited Jesus in, but there he stood, reminding you of the love that binds your family together, and strengthening you to love some more.
Maybe it was when you were brooding over a hurt that came from your brother months ago. Several times you tried to let the hurt go, but every time you remembered what he said, your anger flared up once more. Then one day you were talking to a dear friend who just went through a divorce. She shared with you how thankful she was for your brother, because he was spending time with her boys who desperately needed a reliable role model. As she spoke you could feel something soften in your heart. You weren’t expecting Jesus, but he came, reminding you of the goodness that you know is in your brother and preparing the way to forgiveness.
Now, of course, we can’t control when Jesus comes. And there are plenty of times when we wait and wait for his arrival. But the simple knowledge that Jesus could crash our lives at any moment should give us hope. We are not forgotten. He will come and change things. And from this perspective it is clear that Jesus is really not crashing—because when he steps into our lives with joy and peace, he does not need to pretend he belongs there.