Saturday, April 21, 2007

Saturday in the 2nd Week of Easter
The Friendly Ghost

Readings: Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; John 6:16-21

Today, I’m reminded of a comic character from childhood days: Caspar, the friendly ghost. The reason will hopefully become clear as we go along.

Rowing a boat on a dark night over rough waters and against strong winds – difficult, but still shouldn’t be an unsettling experience for the disciples, familiar as they are with conditions on the lake. The thing that scares them is not so much the physical conditions as it is the sight of someone walking on the water. That is radically new and strange. That is confusing and deeply disturbing. Yet, when the disciples offer hospitality to the ghostly figure, after being reassured of who it is – It is I. Do not be afraid – they reach their destination in no time.

Perhaps the situation in the first reading is not much different. Here the rough waters and strong winds are of a different sort. The Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews. And the ghostly figure walking on the water? A novel suggestion: select from among yourselves seven men. Might this move not cause some consternation in the community? Probably no more or no less than the kind of consternation that is still provoked among us, for example, by the presence of lay ministers of communion, and more recently female lay ministers of communion. Even so, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The strange idea proves to be a good one when the word of the Lord continues to spread.

A lesson is being offered us perhaps? The Lord in whom we place all our hope can often show himself to us in ways that might unsettle and even frighten us at first. In the midst of our distress, we need to listen out for his voice, allow him to reassure us, and then be willing to welcome him into our boats, so that he might show us the way to our proper destination.

How are we being greeted by Christ the friendly ghost today?

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