What an opportunity and burden homilists have during this month of May! Because the church is celebrating the Ascension, Pentecost, the Trinity, and the Body and Blood of Christ, preachers are invited to preach on four sets of scripture readings pertaining to the person of Jesus — both the historical and risen Jesus.
But we can never forget that the Jesus we encounter in the Christian scriptures (especially the Jesus of the Gospels) is the risen Jesus. Most scholars are convinced that no one who actually experienced the historical Jesus, that unique Palestinian Jewish itinerant preacher who lived between 6 B.C.E. and 30 C.E., ever wrote anything about him that we can access today. Our sacred authors experienced only a “new creation.” As Paul of Tarsus reminded his Galatian converts, in their life of faith they encounter someone who is neither Jew nor gentile, slave nor free, male nor female (Gal 3:28).