The Resurrection Community

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

We are an Easter people who live in the light of Christ’s Resurrection. While it is essential that we enter into His Passion, we must never forget that the story continues past the cross and through the empty tomb.

In my Lenten journey, my spiritual director instructed me to do a 40-Day-At-Home Ignatian retreat. I spent many hours with Fr. Mark E. Thibodeaux SJ and his book Ascending with Ignatius: A 30-Day At-Home Retreat. Towards the end of the retreat, he had a wonderful reflection on the Resurrection and the community.

In many of the Resurrection accounts, the Risen Christ directs the disciples to community.

At the end of Luke’s Gospel, two disciples are leaving Jerusalem and are on the road to Emmaus. Along the way, they encounter Jesus even though they do not recognize Him. As they walk, He explains how the Scriptures pointed to His saving work. He stays with them when they ask Him to stay, where He makes Himself known in the “breaking of the bread.” When they realize it was Jesus, they rush back to Jerusalem immediately.

Jerusalem is about seven-and-a-half miles away from Emmaus. They would have set out on this road at night. It should be remembered that night travel is not common as it is today with streetlights and the like. They would have been rushing through the deep darkness with only starlight and moonlight to guide their way. But they were so moved that they had to return. After the crucifixion, they left the community in Jerusalem and headed to Emmaus. Once they encounter Christ, they are inspired to immediately return to that community.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the Apostles gathered in the upper room. But Thomas was not there and so missed out on the encounter. Again, because Thomas was not with the community He missed out on the Risen Christ. We often call him “Doubting Thomas” because of his reluctance to believe the Apostles who reported their encounter with the Risen Lord. But Thomas had at least enough faith to remain with the others for another week. And then Christ returns to the community with Thomas present. He encounters Christ because He stays with the community.

Later in the Gospel, Peter tries to leave the community when he says “I am going fishing.” It is clearly a solitary activity that he is pursuing. But the other disciples do not let him go off alone. 6 others go off with him so that He is not alone. When Jesus calls from the shore and enacts the miracle of the fish, John recognizes it is Christ on the shore and Peter dives into the water and swims to Him. Notice how John and Peter have complimentary gifts. John has insight that it is Jesus appearing, but it is Peter who has the courage to dive into the water.

While not all the Resurrection appearances are communal, these stories have a strong emphasis on the community.

This is a reminder that, as Fr. Larry Richards is fond of saying, there are no Lone Rangers in Christianity. While each of us must have an intensely personal relationship with Christ, this should continue to return us to the community.

The story of the Road to Emmaus reminds us that a genuine encounter with the Lord will always move us back to the community. While we do have a tradition of those who are called to be hermits and anchoresses, even these people are making themselves a part of the community. Their isolation is part of their process to pray for and educate the community. It would appear that if you say you encounter the Risen Christ but do not return the community, then the encounter may not be real.


In the story of Thomas, we are reminded that Christ appears to His Church. Jesus is present at our liturgies, particularly in a substantial way at mass. But He is also present in the people. Once a priest gave a homily to Mother Teresa’s nuns. He said that when they give Communion to others that they should remember that they are being Christ to them. After the mass, Mother Teresa approached the priest and told him, “You should have told them that they are serving Christ in the people.” The Risen Christ is here with our community.

And we need each other to see Christ. In the appearance by the sea, Peter needed John’s insight and John needed Peter’s courage. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve found myself leaning on my fellow Christians to help me see Jesus. And as much as God can use me, I do my best to help others encounter the Lord. None of us are perfect. We all have virtues we are lacking. But in the community, we can find the fullness of virtues to help make up for our own deficits. To be sure, there are an abundance of vices among us. But with Christ, He can heal us of those sins.

Jesus gave us each other so that we could encounter His Risen presence in this world.

Copyright 2024, WL Grayson

W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

I am a devoutly Catholic theology teacher who loves a popular culture that often, quite frankly, hates me. I grew up absorbing every movie, TV show, comic book, science fiction novel, etc. I could find. As of today I’ve watched over 2100 movies and tv shows. They take up a huge part of my life. I don’t know that this is a good thing, but it has given me a common vocabulary to draw from in order to illustrate whatever theological point I make in class. I’ve used American Pie the song to explain the Book of Revelation (I’ll post on this some time later) and American Pie the movie to help explain Eucharist (don’t ask). The point is that the popular culture is popular for a reason. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and imaginations, for good or ill. In this blog I will attempt to bring together the things of heaven with the things of earth. Of course this goal may be too lofty for someone like me.

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