On Good Friday I watched Jesus Christ Superstar (Stay Home #WithMe). I braced myself for the scene that bothers me more than the thirty-nine lashings or the death of Judas.
A woman comes out of the shadows, “See my eyes I can hardly see. ” Then a man, “See me stand I can hardly walk.” Then more and more and more people approach Jesus.
“I believe you can make me whole. See my tongue I can hardly talk. See my skin I’m a mass of blood. See my legs I can hardly stand. I believe you can make me well. See my purse I’m a poor, poor man.”
The voices get louder and more insistent. “Will you touch, will you mend me, Christ? Won’t you touch, will you heal me, Christ? Will you kiss, you can heal me, Christ? Won’t you kiss, won’t you pay me, Christ?”
Jesus tries to touch each one but he can’t. “There’s too many of you; don’t push me. There’s too little of me; don’t crowd me.”
They all converge, relentless until he screams. “Heal yourselves!”
I’m agitated on one level because this isn’t the Jesus I know. I’m also agitated at a deeper level because this is how I feel and act sometimes. Though my screaming comes in a different form, it is a scream none the less. My soul cries, “There are too many of you; there’s too little of me.”
On Easter Saturday, Fred and I watched It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. The journalist who has come to interview Fred Rogers sees over and over again, how Mr. Rogers takes time with each neigbour he meets. He is never rushed, fully present. He loves them just the way they are. He gives himself to them. This is the Jesus I know.
I want to be Fred Rogers, I sighed. I mean, I want to be my truest self, the me that I see in Fred Rogers.
Long ago, I gave up trying to make myself into someone else. I’ve also given up trying to become my True Self. That’s God’s work. I can’t push the river. Until God transforms me, I’m resigned to being overwhelmed, self-protective, and hurtful at times.
On Easter Sunday before I went online to participate with Christ Church Cathedral in the Holy Eucharist, I read “This Is My Body,” Chapter Eleven in Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ. In it, Rohr writes,
“As St. Augustine said, we must feed the body of Christ to the people of God until they know that they are what they eat! And they are what they drink!”
Tears began to flow. I can be Mr.Rogers. I am Mr.Rogers.
Minutes later, I joined the people of God. Hundreds of us in our homes gathered around Christ’s table. With them, I ate Jesus’ body and drank his blood and consumed the reality that my deepest me is God, as Catherine of Genoa once said.
I have been resurrected, and I can live out of Christ in me. Fred Rogers is in me, ready to come out of the tomb.
As the bread and wine which we now eat and drink
are changed into us,
may we be changed again into you,
bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh,
loving and caring in the world.
—from A Communion Liturgy of the Iona Community
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This sermon by Archbishop Melissa (-26.29) brought me to tears. Her words went right into my heart and from it at the same time. “I rely on the resurrection,” she said.