sexta-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2014

TOUCH AND SEE


It is I myself!
Touch me and see.

Luke 24:39 (read 24.36b-48) – NIV

The Gospel according to Luke reports that Jesus' companions were devastated and grieving the death of the one in whom they had placed their hopes! Their world had collapsed and their dreams had evaporated. They were left to pick up the pieces that were left over and to make a new beginning in life! But suddenly that life appeared as a ghost before their eyes. The dead Jesus was unbelievably alive! To answer their unbelief Jesus invited them to touch him and look at his wounds. Jesus became a real and amazing experience! They became eyewitnesses of the victory of life over death.

For us, Jesus as a resurrected person is not an objective experience, but a dogma to be accepted by faith. Instead of being an experience Jesus is a creed. Institutionalized Christianity presents Jesus as an article of faith, a doctrine, a system of thought and a theology. Over the centuries the churches have been increasingly divided on matters of doctrine and religious practices. We are the fruit of this phenomenon that continues today. It is difficult to identify with Jesus without declaring affiliation with some denomination or religious tendency. We are pressured to conform to a certain set of rules and have institutional loyalty.

Christianity is divorced from touching and seeing, because there is no physical Jesus standing before us to show himself. If touching and seeing is important, whom can we touch and see? The canonic gospels cite Jesus as giving an answer. According to the Gospel of Mathew the Jesus of today is not represented by ecclesiastical authorities but by people in need who surround us – “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (25:40).

Today Jesus continues to be a constant reality by manifesting himself in situations of despair and suffering. Jesus is not to be found in religious gatherings in sanctuaries but on the margins of society. We're not used to seeing Jesus in the homeless, the immigrant, the jobless or many others who are cast out and shunned by main-liners who close themselves off from those who are different from themselves. Many who identify themselves as Christians reject Jesus when they see the needy by labeling them as being lazy, illegal or otherwise unworthy of compassion.

When we refuse to give gestures of solidarity we are rejecting the invitation to touch and see. But the invitation to touch and see continues until now whether we recognize it or not. Touching and seeing only by faith is a copout from exercising real live actions of compassion.

 

Luke 24:36-48 - New International Version (NIV)

JESUS APPEARS TO THE DISCIPLES

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

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