‘tis the season for environmental allergies. Sneezes and sniffles can be heard everywhere. Pollen is in the air. Most trees and plants depend on pollen being spread from one tree or one plant to another. The air moves pollen about, but many plants and trees depend on bees and other insects to carry pollen from one blossom to another. This genetic sharing provides for variety and for more robust plants and trees.
The same thing is true of faith and belief. The Resurrection of Jesus is the perfect example. Some, and most notably Peter and the beloved disciple, saw an empty tomb and were left wondering what had happened to the body. Others, including the disciples on the road to Emmaus, were visited by the risen Jesus in His glorified body, and they had no idea what that meant. It’s only when the two experiences – for some, the empty tomb; for others, the risen Christ – were shared, that the disciples began to understand the truth of the Resurrection.
If Peter, Mary Magdelene, and the beloved disciple had seen the empty tomb and then gone home in disbelief to wonder and pray about it — or, if the disciples on the road to Emmaus had experienced the risen Christ and then gone on their way quietly thanking God — the two experiences would not have cross-pollinated the faith of the first believers. The story of Jesus, and His impact on humanity and world history, would have ended then and there. Through the retelling and sharing of how each group experienced Christ, the faith of all was enriched.
And so it is today. Our experiences of Christ are meant to be shared, so that we can cross-pollinate the faith life and religious experience of others. Your experience of Christ may leave you scratching your head: what does this mean? Peter and the beloved disciple wondered the same, as did those who traveled to Emmaus. A family member, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, another member of the Church may also be wondering what their experience of Christ meant. By sharing your faith experiences, your questions, your encounters with God, you may bring the piece of the puzzle that is necessary to complete the portrait of Christ for another person. Or listening to another’s story of faith might complete the puzzle for you. Who is Christ to you? Where have you experienced God’s grace in your life? How have you encountered God in your life? Share your faith, and listen for a sharing of faith that will enrich you.
Christianity was born, in a way, from the retelling of each person’s experiences of Christ. When those faith experiences reached a critical mass, each believer’s heart was full and their understanding of the risen Christ complete. If they had kept quiet about it, or held their questions inside of themselves out of fear or timidity, Christianity would likely have died, as had Christ Jesus.
So, go cross-pollinate others with your experiences in Christ. It makes for a more robust faith. And that’s nothing to sneeze at!