- Stories of disappearance
«Their eyes were opened and they recognized him
he disappeared out of their sight» Luke, 24,31)
Two disciples were walking with a man who was comforting
them and was explaining the Scriptures. Since it was late they
invited him to stay with them at Emmaus. It was then that they
recognized him but he had already disappeared. This story of
apparition is more a story of disappearance. When we speak about
the apparitions of Jesus after his resurrection, we should also
speak of his disappearances. Jesus disappeared in death. His
body disappeared from the tomb where he was laid down. The tomb
was empty. When he showed himself after his death, he was not
recognized at first. Sure it is he, but different.
Then came the great departure, the Ascension Day, when he
disappeared definitely. These apparitions followed by disappearances
seem to show that if Jesus is still there, it is in another way
than his previous life.
- He did not wish to be held back «Don't touch me»
he said to Mary of Magdalena at the moment when she recognized
him in the form of the gardener. Recognizing him is also trying
to hold him, to keep him after having thought to lose him. He
is there but in a different way. He asked to be touched when
there was a doubt that it was he, Jesus, like for Thomas. But
now for us, how can we believe in him without seeing or touching?
Yet, it is those who believe without seeing which were declared
blessed. To believe means really to go beyond the evidence of
our senses to reach another knowledge.
Jesus used many parables in which a master is away travelling
and leaving his property in the hands of his servants. He gives
them the freedom to decide for what is necessary. The master
is absent but at the same time he is there. It is his property
and when he returns they will answer to him. In leaving his friends
on Ascension Day, Jesus gave them the responsibility of his message
and freedom to announce it in their own way. When he was leaving,
he said only « Now I will always be with you till the end»
(End of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, 28, 20). Perhaps
is he really there only when he departs? He does not interfere
any more with the responsibility and the freedom of every one
For children becoming adult, they have to grow away from their
parents. The parents have to step aside, always present and loving,
but allowing their children to develop their autonomy. By taking
some distance from their parents the children can attach to others.
- A too obvious presence of Jesus could re-enforce the attachment
to his person instead to the attention to other persons. He did
underline that the way to love him was to take care of the others:
a smile, a visit, a better life
What is this kind of absence in the form of a presence? Probably
this was what the first witnesses strongly experienced after
the death of Jesus. They have named this experience «resurrection»
and they described it under stories of apparition and disappearance.
- Maybe it is what we experience ourselves, some time in
a flash, in a milder way, in moments of plenitude of life, when
we are loved and overcome by a sudden impulse, enlightened in
a new way and fulfilled with confidence. In such moments even
death does not make us afraid.