THE MONKEY’S PAW
‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W.W. Jacobs tells of a poor couple who gain possession of a lucky charm with power to grant the possessor three wishes. Being poor they wish for money. Their wish is granted – tragically. Their son is killed in an accident and they receive a large sum from the insurance. They try to make things right by wishing that their son will come back to them. He does! His corpse rises from the grave, howling at the door, the cold earth falling from him – “Mother, mother, let me in! ” They have one wish left. If you want to know how the story ends you must read it for yourself.
When I first heard the story I was impressed by the horror engendered by the idea of someone coming back from the dead. And yet the heart of the Christian faith is the celebration of a man who has come back from the dead. On the Sundays after Easter we listen to accounts of Jesus’ appearances to his friends. But there is no horror, no creepy stench of the supernatural. The disciples are confused but not frightened. The women flee in terror from the empty tomb precisely because they have not seen Jesus risen from the dead. The easiness with which the Gospel writers portray the meetings of Jesus with his friends reassures us that he is not some resuscitated corpse.
‘Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord’. The risen Jesus brings joy not terror. The good news is of Life so rich, abundant and pure that it makes death itself seem unreal. A man went through death and hell and came back with the promise of the Father’s creative love. The consequences of that love were Calvary and Hades for the Son of Man. The creative love suffers in all the pain of creation. Every rape, every abortion, every death by AIDS, the unexplained death of the young are all there in the Sacred Heart that suffered on Calvary. Timothy Rees CR put it thus:
Wherever love is outraged,
Wherever love is killed,
Where man still wrongs his brother
thy Passion is fulfilled.
We see thy tortured body,
We see the wounds that bleed,
Where brotherhood hangs crucified, Nailed to the cross of greed.
‘See my hands and my feet’. The love which defies death is the Love that suffers for us but it is a witness to the God who will not leave us. Jesus meets the disciples by the lakeside and shares a meal with them. The living Lord is encountered in fellowship and communion.
At the Eucharist ‘The Lord is here ! His Spirit is with us ! ’ As they knew him the breaking of bread so we know him in Holy Communion.
Jesus is the sign of the Father to us. Let us take the body of the Lord, and let us be signs to the world that he is risen indeed.
John Gribben, is Novice-Master of the Community of the Resurrection.