Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 Jn 2:1-5a; Lk 24:35-48
Do you know that “god-sibb” is the forefather of “gossip”? Just google the etymology of “gossip” or look up that word in old English dictionaries or dictionary of etymology. “God” is included in the word “gossip”. God-talk was gossip, and in the nations where freedom of religion is unacceptable, it remains a gossip. For us Christians, Easter fever has gone viral, and salvation virus has gone nuclear. The fever and virus in town is GOSSIPING! The trending gossip, you know, is the resurrection of Christ. This gossip has a legitimacy of a life-time, not just the Eastertides. Like every gossip, there are different accounts of it, and there are different vectors for its circulation. The simplest form of this gossip is that Christians will live forever with Christ because Christ has conquered death and sin. Interestingly, the English language allows for pun, when it comes to the use of the word “gossip”. Those who gossip are called gossips! The subject becomes the object of the same subject, and the same word is a verb and a noun, meaning, you are a gossip by gossiping! To gossip is to be a gossip, your personality is defined by your action. How nice and simple!
For those who have ever been in love for whatever reason, either on account of marriage, the birth of a child, pulling off a dreamed vocation or profession, will testify that love-story gossip is inevitable because they experience the fond memories of the intense passion and nostalgia that the gossip brings back each time it is told. It is therapeutic to become a gossip because love-stories have a way of being ever new, ever fresh and ever interesting. Good moments hold us captive for the rest of our lives, make us contemporaneous with the events each time we retell them, and give us reasons to look into the future with hope, love and stamina. In stories of fond memories and love are the ingredients and motifs for fidelity; when it is the story of God’s love for us, his death for us, and his continuous love for us, we talk of salvific gossip, we talk of the good news of salvation: gossip turns into salvation story and good news, when we gossip about the Christ-event, as the apostles are doing in the first reading of today. So why gossip?
A gossip is transformative and salvific when it makes one’s hearers long for their share of joys and join in telling their part of the story to bring joy to others – their testimonies to God’s goodness to them and their loved ones.
A gossip becomes salvific when the good news is shared with others, and when it brings happiness and joy to its hearers. A gossip is transformative and salvific when it makes one’s hearers long for their share of joys and join in telling their part of the story to bring joy to others – their testimonies to God’s goodness to them and their loved ones. This joyful gossip-story must have Jesus and what he did as its center. This is the story the disciples of Jesus are telling us in our first reading today. Peter’s speech which links Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to us is to establish our roots in the past. It speaks of our God as a planner, who takes his time to develop plots for our salvific gossip. God planned the joy and happiness that is ours today. The story of the happiness that has become the gossip of today’s first reading relies on God’s determination to help us enjoy happiness. So, are you a gossip?
Our life-story may be fraught with sins and wrong doing, it remains our story all the same, and nothing to be ashamed of. It is interesting to hear Peter’s excuse on behalf of sinners, he says “that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did.” So, “sin” is a factor of ignorance! However, more interesting is what God does with human ignorance and sins, “but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets”. The story of our sinfulness creates and paves the way for God’s intervention in our lives. The story of our past inglorious lives, become a confession, like that of St. Paul and St. Augustine, and a preparation for a better life. Like a rear mirror, the story of our past must not consume our time; rather, the windscreen should take up our time because the past only prepared the present, and the present leads into the future. What is more, the present is our “alleluia” time because we are sons and daughters of God – “god-siblings” (gossips)! Today, our stories are transformed into gossips because those stories are not accusations for condemnation but leitmotifs for conversion, they become “good-news-gossip” because other sinners who hear us realize how much God loves them despite their sins. Now, you are god-sibling NOT just a gossip!
So, “sin” is a factor of ignorance!
The story of the disciples to Emmaus re-established them in their joy of believing. According to the gospel of today, “The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread”. This is a case of private conversation gone viral, gossip turned salvation story. The story of their experience that God comes to the dispirited and sorrowful brought them joy. Their story becomes the gossip that convinced others of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus journeys with those in need, and they may not immediately recognize him; all the same, he reassures them that their history is planned by God, that human beings and all that happen to them are known to God and God always intervenes in human history. The story of and gossip about each one of us becomes the story that brings about the reason for our faith and believe. When we count our blessings, we will always have reasons to testify to God’s benevolence toward us and others. Yes, therapeutic gossip!
Recounting our story brings God back into our midst, it reconnects the past with the present because God is ever present in his word, and wherever he is mentioned and called upon, he appears. According to our gospel, “While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’”. Try it out, if you want to see the Lord, gossip about him. “Joy” is the mission of Jesus, and wherever he is, there is joy. When there is sorrow, Jesus intervenes – “Then he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled?’” The Easter story is about the return of the “joy” lost because of the death of Jesus. It is the purification and transformation of gossip into good news. The reappearance of Jesus after his resurrection returned the joy of the apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ. If you want to gossip, gossip about the Lord!
Try it out, if you want to see the Lord, gossip about him… If you want to gossip, gossip about the Lord!
Partying and celebrating manifest the presence of joy, and the presence of Christ. For Christians, party and celebration by eating and drinking are commemorative of Jesus’ elevation of a mundane action of food and drink into the celebration of his life and death. Jesus initiates this today, when he says, “‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them”. Through food, Jesus makes himself visible amongst us – “for I was hungry you gave me to eat, . . . For I was thirty, you gave me to drink”. When we eat and drink, we celebrate life and the joy of living. When it is the body and blood of Christ that we eat and drink, then we renew our oneness and togetherness in Christ at the Eucharistic table, our action of thanksgiving.
Every time we give thanks by eating and drinking, we tell the story of the source of our joy and happiness. We rejoice because “Jesus is the expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world,” as our second reading will put it. Our joy is doubled because our story also extends to the present and future, what Jesus does now and what he continues to do into the future. According to our second reading, in Jesus we have the lawyer and attorney we need to plead for our sins, even for our future sins: “But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one”. The permanent efficacy of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, and its everlasting memorial in the Eucharistic celebration, cannot but be an ever rejuvenating source of happiness. If anything story must go viral, this is it, our salvation gossip and story!
A Christian is a story teller and a creator of joyful story. We tell the story of our salvation and testify by our actions of helping the poor of the joy of salvation and the creation of a brotherhood and sisterhood of Christians; the league of those “of one heart and one mind,” who share all they have in common, where no one either claims or keeps his/her property to himself/herself. Indeed, I am a Christian gossip, when will you join me?
Assignment for the week:
Tell your family, friends and colleagues one salvific gossip of your life