It’s the Easter season, which means that the gospel readings on Sunday have been stories told by and about Jesus’ friends after his death. Over and over, the stories tell us that Jesus’ friends eventually realize he is among them, but they don’t recognize him right away. He first has to talk to them, or eat with them, or touch them.
Mary sees a gardener at the cemetary, but when she speaks to him she discovers the One she is seeking. The disciples on the road to Emmaus see a stranger, but when they invite him to share a meal with them, they find the One they have lost. An unknown person appears suddenly among the disciples gathered in Jerusalem, but when they talk with him, touch him, eat with him, they know they have met again the One they thought was gone them.
These stories suggest that the Christ, the chosen One, is not found in appearances but in actions. Perhaps the person they behold in these stories is not specifically Jesus, but rather the chosen One the disciples had found in their friend Jesus, whom they recognize by what he does rather than how he looks. Perhaps the Christ is not any particular person, does not bear any one person’s face, and can only be known through acts of communication, community, communion.
Could this be what Jesus meant when he told his friends that the Holy One’s authority was already within and among them rather than over them or yet to come?