As we celebrate on this Easter Sunday, one of the things that keeps sticking in my mind is how much of a surprise Easter must have been for those early disciples. After the persecution, humiliation, and death of Jesus, surely they were experiencing sadness, confusion, and a strong sense of failure. In the stories we hear, there is fear and uncertainty as these followers encountered Jesus on Easter morning, but I can’t help but think that surprise must have been a paramount emotion, too! Resurrection, encountering and speaking with someone who was known to have died, was something that went against all expectations, yet at the same time this surprise was an invitation to a deeper level of seeing, knowing, and being.
Pope Francis at times speaks of “the God of surprises,” who comes to us in unexpected ways. Easter seems like the perfect time to ask if we ourselves are open to the God of surprises. Am I open to receiving unexpected love, compassion, kindness through a kind word or caring gesture from a friend, family member, colleague, or patient? Am I willing to offer the same when the opportunity arises, even if we are both surprised by it? Do I carry around expectations, certainties about “how things are,” when it comes to particular people or situations that prevent me from experiencing God’s love in new or unexpected ways?
Sometimes God shows up where we would never expect God to be, the question is whether or not we are open to being surprised – that is where we truly experience Easter joy!