The information that we have on what we might call, the faith life of the apostles and disciples in the days and weeks following Jesus' death and resurrection comes to us via the efforts of the gospel writers 40 or 50 years later.
Theirs was not an easy task. Inspired though they were, they still had to deal with those early witnesses' accounts of what they experienced as they found themselves at the forefront of the greatest evolutionary leap forward since the creation of our species.
This does not mean that they stood taller, spoke with greater wisdom or uncovered and used unimagined natural resources.
It was not that simple!
To appreciate this we must pause to remember that the second person of the Blessed Trinity united himself, in the most intimate fashion possible, to the human race when he chose to become one of us without, in any way, diluting his Divinity.
And so, Jesus, when the time was right, went public and carefully developed a loving, teaching, healing relationship with his sisters and his brothers.
This relationship became the essence of what he called, his Kingdom... His Other-Worldly Kingdom.
The religious and civil authorities of the time decided that he constituted a dangerous threat to their power structure and so they executed him.
That is when the real heavy stuff began. Because, unlike everyone before him, he did not stay dead. He was not resuscitated like some who benefited from his early miracles.
He alone rose from the dead, never to die again.
And, to his everlasting glory, he offered this same deliverance, this same salvation from the eternal death that remains today the ultimate fate of every plant or animal.
Henceforth every human person would be offered, through him, with him and in him... eternal life. And the dead of every generation shall be called forth from their graves.
So the word went out that nothing can stop him from being with us. Not death,not walls, not distance, not time... nothing.
Stories of personal encounters with Jesus were reported and re-told over and over.
Understandably, over those 40 or 50 years, the details had become somewhat cloudy and even contradictory.
To harmonize these reports was an impossible task for the early Church.
But the Gospel writers and their community sensed that the point was not to be found in the details, no matter how authentic or how imaginative!
The point is that those early followers of Jesus, those who knew and loved him best, basked in the intimate, soul filling presence of the Lord... the risen Jesus...
The certainty of his presence was and remains his gift.
This is 'Grace.' Grace beyond all expectation.
It has been suggested, and I have grown to accept, that the right way to read these often debated texts is to find in their graphic imagery, not necessarily specific descriptions of what happened, but a narrative process that tries to somehow evoke the visceral experience of the risen Christ... "Were not our hearts burning within us?"
And now, a couple of thousand years later, it is for us to be sensitive to the gift of Jesus revealing his presence here and now. May our hearts burn within us!