Why are you so agitated?

There is a bridge in Ireland over the Corrib River from which you can watch salmon jumping a weir as they struggle upstream to their breeding grounds. It is an amazing sight to see these fish shoot out of the water and land above the weir and then struggle frantically to hold their position as they make their way against the current.

Nature gives us so many mirrors to view our progress and the question arises, ‘where are our weirs?’ What are the obstacles? Perhaps there aren’t any, but that would be worrying. We need problems, targets, challenges, opposition – whatever they are they stretch us and bring out something better within us, something we may not have dreamed we could do.

Something of this sort happened when Jesus showed himself to his disciples after he rose from the dead. They could not accept his resurrection because it disturbed them too much. It was beyond anything they were used to. There is evidence in the gospels that they wanted to forget the whole business and go home and resume their fishing. But, as with Jeremiah when he too thought of giving up, their hearts burned within them (Luke 24:32, Jer. 20:9) and they stayed on.

For Jesus his resurrection was no surprise. It was the ‘natural’outcome of his mission to conquer evil and raise humanity ‘above the weir.’ ‘It is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.’ But for the disciples this was both terrifying and thrilling. No wonder they were agitated!

People do not like to be disturbed and neither do governments. John Waters wrote recently, ‘a ‘secular’ education sets out to produce citizens, consumers and functionaries rather than mature human beings animated with affection and curiosity.’ He points to the danger of governments, even democratic ones, wanting a docile electorate that will fit in to a ‘big brother’ grey world of conformity.

But Jesus resurrection raises the stakes. It holds out a ‘higher’ world for which human beings can strive. We don’t have to live the way we do. We are free. Unlike the salmon we can choose our obstacles in the sense that we can choose a way of life which will provide our particular challenges. What Easter does is to surge, like a swollen river, into our grey world and transform it, lift it up.

But it can only happen through us, just as it did through Peter and John when they stood up and fearlessly addressed the Jews. They were ‘astonished … considering they were uneducated laymen’ (Acts 4:13). Astonishment is the hallmark of the resurrection. What we can be and do is astonishing.

Post published in: Faith

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