A Reversal of Expectations    

By Emily VanBerkum

Today’s readings are very much in keeping with the spirit of the Easter season, by inviting us to continue to reverse our expectations. Eastertide is all about letting go of what we thought we knew and embracing possibilities of what could be. Who could have imagined that the saviour of the world would die a painful death on a lowly cross? Who could have imagined that instead of saving himself and coming down from the cross, Jesus resurrected days later and humbly appeared to one of his closest female disciples? To me, the whole Easter narrative, that continues now in its fourth week, is all about reimagining our relationship with Christ.

In the first reading, we discover that Peter has been imprisoned for preaching the resurrection of Christ. In his impassioned speech to the high priests and rulers in Jerusalem, Peter claims that Christ, “the stone rejected by the builders” has in fact now become “the cornerstone.” A vital component of the building’s design, the discarded stone is realized to be the necessary piece that brings the building to its perfect completion. Discarded by the high priests and rulers, Jesus was not the likely hoped-for Messiah to bring about the Kingdom of God. But through a miraculous reversal in expectations, Christ fulfilled his promise by bringing about salvation for all.

Moreover, the Gospel image of Christ as the Good Shepherd, lovingly tending to his flock, is one that resonates with me. We might be tempted to view Christ as a mighty King, but a shepherd caring for his flock to the point of laying down his life to protect them, is a very down-to-earth imagining of the kind of relationship Christ desires to have with us. In the Gospel we hear the phrase, “I know my own and my own know me.” To me, this phrase signifies a relationship of mutuality between us and Christ that rejects harmful expectations of what we plan or imagine for ourselves- what we thought would, could, or should be. Instead, the Gospel message is a sign to us that Christ knows us and accepts us just as we are. Let us not place demands on our relationship with Christ but allow Him to encounter us in the reverse of our expectations. Sometimes it could be the most unlikely of places in our spiritual journey. Embrace the possibilities of a relationship with Christ not of our own, but of God’s design!