They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. – Luke 24:37
Surprise! I’m back!
Why are you surprised?
Mary Magdalene told you, I know. She’s had her demons,
but she can tell a story. Joanna can, and Mary, too,
and if they couldn’t they had company to share the tale
the angels told them. Oh, but no: you didn’t listen,
did you? You called it just an idle tale?
But why are you surprised?
I walked for miles toward Emmaus.
Cleopas and (sorry, I forget the name)
spent hours with me, fire in our feet
and in our hearts and then I broke the bread.
Which they just told you, right?
So why are you surprised?
You didn’t listen when old Simon there,
my so-rock-headed friend, said, “I’ve seen him!
Jesus lives!” He doesn’t have the gifted tongue
of Mary – no, not yet – but still you might
have done the favor of believing him.
Yes, why are you surprised?
Did I not tell you once and twice and so
and on again, again, again, that death
would come and death would go and I
would rise to come and speak with you?
And you are fearing ghosts, for heaven’s sake.
Sigh. Why are you surprised?
All right. You’ve heard the story thrice, and nope.
So here I am. You see me? Unconvinced.
I’m speaking right? You stubborn… argh.
Try touching. There’s even wounds to see
and feel; there’s bones beneath the skin.
No. You are still surprised.
For pity’s sake, can we move on from this?
I’m hungry. Have you anything to eat?
A poem/prayer based on Luke 24:36-48, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Third Sunday of Easter.
The image is Christ Appearing at the Apostles’ Table by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1308) – http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/d/duccio/buoninse/index.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3925674.
One of the fascinating literary features of the Gospels – more in some, less in others – is the way the evangelists let the Twelve stand in for the uncertainties, ignorance, and earnest-but-not-educated yearning of their readers. As a result, the Twelve (Eleven in this passage) have something of a slapstick comedy feel to them. When they become figures of wisdom, authority, and talent in Acts of the Apostles, it comes as something of a literary (if not spiritual, thanks to the Pentecost event) surprise. In tribute to their earnestness which is also ours, I offer this… “Try and catch up with me, will you?” version of Jesus.
6 thoughts on “Surprise!”
One (only one) of the most humorous passages in the gospels and you have captured it perfectly.
Thank you so much, Maren!
Perfect tone …. I especially liked “sorry, I forgot the name…) Can we cling to the surprise?
It’s so good to hear from you, Carole. As for clinging to the surprise, I think I’m with you, at least at the point when the surprise coexists with joy.
You hit the slapstick tone just right. Sadly, Christians are still doing slapstick interpretations to this day. Now with mass media!
Thank you, John. I do prefer this kind of slapstick to the kind where people get slapped… with sticks.