Christ: Crucified, Dead, Risen — and Eating Fish

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

“The Appearance to the Apostles” by Duccio di Buoninsegna ca. 1255 – 1319

I got caught up today by a dead-and-resurrected-Jesus eating fish.

Sitting on my front porch, candle lit, scripture out, my prayer time came to a sort of abrupt halt reading these words from Luke’s Gospel that describe Jesus showing up after his crucifixion and Easter miracle, and dining on real food.

“Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”

And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

–Luke 24: 38-43

Christ is both dead and alive. Both. And. His flesh and bones — heart, mind, and spirit – carry the story of his betrayal, convey the reality of his death — and simultaneously reveal a pulsating, vibrant life. He is a back-from-the-dead hungry and loving human.*

I don’t stop often to contemplate Jesus, the “Risen One,” as Jesus “the guy with holes in his feet, hands and side.” I don’t. I’m easily comforted by the mystery of the resurrection simply being: Jesus as ethereal spirit floating and appearing and loving us all through this vast universe. It’s not a literal, physical rising from the dead that I dwell on or imagine very often.

“While he still bears the marks of crucifixion, he also breathes. And it is that breathe, that new life that triumphs and offers us a transformed perspective of our own living.”

Enter: Luke, chapter 24, versus 38-43.

The invitation to see Christ as the apostles did – whole and manifest in the room, is an urgent one for me in today’s scripture.

Christ wounded, and Christ rocking it. Jesus, dead; Jesus, thriving. It’s the both-and nature of this mystery of his resurrection, and the literal triumph of life over death, that offers us the compelling invitation to revisit all of our definitions of suffering and not only surviving, but existing as a transformed and reborn being.

If the son of God can walk around as not only a deeply hurt human, but both dead and living person — and still offer radical love, hospitality, peace and forgiveness, then what are the implications for me? For all of us?

Our comprehension and definition of Christ doesn’t end in the suffering. Ever. While he still bears the marks of crucifixion, he also breathes. And it is that breathe, that new life that triumphs and offers us a transformed perspective of our own living. We are not the sum of our depressed states, anxieties, addictions, or failures. That bankruptcy, alcohol or drug addiction, infidelity, is not the whole of who we are if we subscribe to this gospel narrative. While those experiences and actualities may mark our beings like the wounds in Jesus’ feet, so too then is the beating heart and oxygen that fills our lungs and defines the larger aspect of our life alongside the resurrected Christ.

We are both/ and, too. Wounded. Restored. And it is our living, our hunger, our presence and love that truly define us.

Fish, anyone?

**************************************************************************************************************

For more on this, read James Allison’s “Knowing Jesus.”

“Woman, why are you crying?” Easter Season Contemplations

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“Mommy, why are you crying?”

Woman, why are you crying? - John 20:15

"Woman, why are you crying?" - John 20:15

I was sitting on the steps of my almost-three-year-old’s daycare provider’s house. I thought I had planned enough time for this transition in our day. I had risen early for my once-a-month- massage appointment. I had left the house early and snuck back in, all peace and relaxation and joy oozing through my muscles, in order to collect my drowsy preschooler from her dad’s arms and drop her at the daycare before my late-morning meeting. Forty five minutes surely had to be enough time to travel less than a mile and then back — right?

The two-year-ten-month-old child, however, was not having it. This Monday she wanted nothing but mommy or daddy. The supposed ten-minute-max drop off went terribly wrong. There were tears and screams and pleas for home — for her blanket, for her father, for me! — coupled with clinging. After all negotiations and requests and attempts at soothing were offered, I headed back out the door with said child still attached to me. Plan B to return her to her resting father was in line.

I was anxious. I was now late. My clock read fifteen minutes passed my meeting time. How had all those extra minutes ticked away? Tears and tantrums (of both children and their parents) are truly the pressure cooker of a time-suck.

Can you imagine the thoughts racing through my mind? Can you hear your own in such a chaotic, late-running-Monday-morning?

I hadn’t planned well. I was clearly a bad mother. I was clearly a poor professional. I couldn’t even make a meeting on time. If I had only thought or prepared a little bit better, then I wouldn’t be in this jam.

I wanted to reach out to the person waiting for me, communicate my dilemma or tardiness, but I didn’t have her phone number. And there was the sniffling kid on my arm – and her bag over my other shoulder – that kept me feeling unable to properly, calmly reach out  and communicate my whereabouts.  At that minute, my cell phone rang. It was the woman waiting for me. Taking a deep breathe, I tried to relay that I was delayed, but would be there, if she could wait. (We had been trying to schedule this meeting for six plus weeks.) I exhaled, and she responded:

“Do not worry. I get it. Take your time. I’ll be here.” It was her compassion, her generosity, her own knowing as a mother, that inspired my tears. I sat down on the steps, next to my hand-holding daughter, and started weeping.

“Mommy, why are you crying?”

***

I told this story recently on Salesian Monday Night as part of Sr. Mary Margaret and my co-presenation on Contemplative Presence. “How do we live in the present moment? How do we encounter the resurrected Christ in our midst every day? How do we find him in ourselves?” As one of the seven essentials of Monastic life for the Visitation Sisters of North Minneapolis, contemplative presence requires a gentle and loving practice of tuning into the fullness of each moment. In sharing my own story, I offered the question, “How do we live a contemplative presence when we are anxious, haven’t seemingly planned well, or aren’t in a perfect state of peace?” — Or, as Sr. Mary Margaret re-framed it in our post-presentation reflection,  “a little pissed off?”

“Your daughter’s question,” reflected Sr. Mary Margaret, is not unlike Christ’s question to Mary Magdalene outside his tomb: “Woman, why are you crying?” (John 20:15)

***

I offer you these thoughts for your own Easter season contemplations. Where are you stuck? Why are you sobbing – in any literal or figurative way? What do your eyes or mind need to turn to in order to see the resurrected Christ in our midst? What joy is hidden behind that veil of tears?

He is Risen! He is you!
EASTER BLESSINGS!