There is an interesting phenomenon associated with the first appearances of Jesus after his resurrection. It is this.  He did not look like himself.  When Mary Magdalene saw him she thought it was the gardener.  When he appeared to the disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberius, at first, they did not recognize him.  Those two disciples on   their way to Emmaus failed to recognize Jesus as he conversed with them at length along the way.

In a sense the same thing can happen to us.  In fact, it can prove very difficult to see Jesus, to see God, in much of what happens in our lives and in the world; all the war, violence, sickness and suffering, all the failures of things we would like to see happen.

How do we see Jesus when he doesn’t look like himself?  I found two responses to that dilemma.  The first was suggested by an author named Louise Evely.  He put the question this way: If Jesus no longer looked like himself, whom did he look like?  In a sense he looked like anyone.  If you want to see Christ, you must look at your neighbor. Those disciples were unable to recognize him by his face, his height, his voice.  They had to let go of those signs and recognize him in a new way … as risen.

If we are to recognize Jesus coming into our lives, we have to let go of any prejudices we may have that distort or cloud our vision.  We have to try a different approach.  If   we are to see him changed we have to accept our need to change.  We might say to be able to recognize him we have to begin to look like him ourselves.

The second response to the dilemma is suggested by an incident in the life of Daniel Berrigan. It seems Berrigan was asked to give a conference on God’s presence in today’s world.  The conference was very brief.  He simply told the audience how he spent some time each week sitting by the bed of a boy who was totally incapacitated both physically and mentally.  The boy just lay there, completely helpless, cut off from any communication.  He suggested this was the way God comes into our world, seemingly silent and helpless.  God does not overpower us with his presence.  He waits for us to listen to what he is saying, waits for us to open our minds and our hearts to him. Only then does he speak.