Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.” (Mk 16: 9-14) What a “messy” story this is. He appeared first, for some reason, to a woman; - “from whom he had cast out seven demons,” no less. So then, (not surprisingly perhaps), His closest disciples “would not believe it.” Not even when two of them come and report the same thing. “If we take it merely as a human story,” Chesterton points out, “it is in some ways a very strange story.” Today I gratefully receive a Tradition that neither embellishes nor smooths over the “very strange story” of God’s relationship with us, in the oft-messy reality called life. He reveals Himself to us amidst our human reluctance to see it; despite our “unbelief and hardness of heart,” and our “shut doors” (cf. Jn 20: 19). This is not a God Who shut us out, or Who had “anger-issues” or other messy issues “we” needed to overcome. No. He sent His Son to overcome our “messiness,” in our own shoes. Today as I prepare for Divine Liturgy, let me let Him overcome the mess of my relationship with Him, once again, as He did for the eleven “as they sat at table.” Glory be to Him.

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