There was a little girl named Allison who always had a hard time going to bed. And this night was no exception. After a story and prayers and a drink of water and a visit to the bathroom, Allison was tucked in and the lights were turned off - but not for long. “Mommy,” she called out in a pitiful voice. “I can’t go to sleep; I’m afraid of the dark.” Now, Allison,” her mother replied patiently, “There’s no reason for you to be afraid. You know that God is always right there with you.” “I know, Mommy,” said the little girl. “I know God’s here. But I want somebody with skin on!”
Little children aren’t the only ones who get scared in the dark. We all get scared in the dark times, and we all need someone to hang onto - someone with skin on. Jesus understands that, as he makes so clear in today’s Gospel from the latter part of the 24th chapter of Luke. “I’m not a ghost,” Jesus says to his friends. “I’m very real; I’m here; and you can count on me. So don’t be afraid. I’ll always be here for you, closer than your breath, closer than your heartbeat. I’ll always be here, even when its very dark.”
Jesus’ words comfort his friends and calm them and that’s good. But it isn’t enough so far as the Lord’s concerned. He wants more for them and for us - a lot more than just peace and quiet. He wants to transform them and us into new people with a radically different way of looking at the world and one another. Jesus wants to transform us into people who understand what it means to be made in God’s own image and what it means to be entrusted with the gift of seeing that in one another. Jesus wants to transform us all into people who understand that our greatest joy, our lastingjoy - is to be found in building the human family and bringing one another to wholeness in the sight of God.
He wants to help us see that the cost of being transformed - and being transformers - is always high, but the cost of not being transformed, the cost of staying mired in ourselves and stuck in our fears is higher still. For that choice leaves us with little or nothing of the only joys that truly warm the heart and enliven the spirit.
Our being transformed is God’s hope and desire for us, God’s will for us. And it will happen and continue happening for each of us, if we trust in God’s presence which is closer than our breath, if we draw strength from the love which is closer than our heartbeat.
God wills us to be whole and be filled full. How can we settle for anything less?