“While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”
Risen one, you are here. Here, as we look at the video released this week by the Boko Haram group in Nigeria, that appears to show some of the 276 girls kidnapped two years ago in Chibok are still alive. You are here, among those girls – and among the 400 others kidnapped seven months later in the Nigerian village of Damasak, an attack that virtually no one heard of until now, because the survivors were too frightened of reprisals to speak out. You are here, among the kidnapped, among the parents, among the kidnappers.
Risen one, be known to us in the breaking of the bread.
Risen one, you are here. Here, as we read a UNICEF report issued this week that says that over the past two years, 1 in every 5 Boko Haram suicide bombers has been a child, three-quarters of them girls, many drugged. You are here as we see videos and interviews of ISIS child soldiers – 7 and 8 year olds, laughing, thinking killing other human beings with a rifle is as much fun, as much a source of pride, as building a tower of Legos or hitting a softball home run. Child soldiers – in Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine. You are here, laughing, killing, playing, dying.
Risen one, be known to us in the breaking of our hearts.
Risen one, you are here. Here, in Attawapiskat, a Canadian First Nation town of barely 2,000 people in Northern Ontario, where some 28 people, mostly teens, attempted suicide in March, with 11 further suicide attempts just this past weekend. You are here among the desolate, the hopeless, those filled with unbearable pain. You are here among those trying to stem the tide – family members and friends hastily removing knives and guns and medications from reach; the mental health workers hastily dispatched to the area; the police now on 24-hour suicide watch patrols.
Risen one, be known to us in the breaking of our dreams.
Risen one, you are here. Here, in Mozambique, which this week announced a national plan to end child marriage, a practice which affects nearly half of the country’s girls. You are here, in the girls as young as nine who are taught how to please a man in bed. You are here, in the men who take them as brides, and the parents who assent. You are here in those campaigning to break the cycle by improving girls’ access to education, reproductive health services, and legal reforms.
Risen one, be known to us in the breaking of our ways.
Risen one, you are here. Here, in The Philippines, which this week launched the world’s first public dengue immunization program, with the goal of reaching 1 million students across the country this year. Dengue, also known as “breakbone fever”, has spread rapidly around the world in recent decades, and about half the world’s population is now at risk. You are here in the healthy, the suffering, the ill, the recovering; in the doctors and caregivers and researchers.
Risen one, be known to us in the breaking of our bodies.
Risen one, you are here. Here, in India, where a stray firework from a nearby celebration exploded at a Hindu temple in Kerala, killing more than 100 people. You are here, in the village of Nanniyode 50 miles away, where more than half of the 500 families either own or work in the fireworks manufacturing businesses located there. Here, where in preparation for upcoming Indian festivals, this should be peak production season, but all the factories are shuttered, and many fear they will lose their livelihoods.
Risen one, be known to us in the breaking of our lives.
Risen one, you are here. Here, among the farmers in the drought-torn nation of Burkina Faso. You are here, among the “plant doctors” trained as part of the innovative international Building Resilience to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) program. You are here, as the farmers stand in line in the market places to get the advice of the plant doctors on how to keep their plants – and families – alive, despite the drought.
Risen one, be known to us in the breaking of our land.
Risen one, you are here. Here, in Vatican City, where this week the participants of a first-of-its-kind Vatican conference have bluntly rejected the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, saying they have too often been used to justify violent conflicts and the global church must reconsider Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence. Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, Uganda, one of the participants, said, “It is out of date for our world of today. We have to sound this with a strong voice,” said the archbishop. “Any war is a destruction. There is no justice in destruction. … It is outdated.” Risen one, you are here. Here, in the call to non-violence. Here, in the nations still embattled. Here, in the nations still suffering the aftermath of wars that ended decades or even centuries ago. Here, in the fearful. Here, in the enraged. Here, in the hope-bearers. Here, in the peace-makers.
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”
Risen one, be known to us in the dawning of our joys.