This mosaic in the Duc in Altum in Magdala, Israel, depicts the encounter between Mary of Magdala when she recognizes the newly Risen Jesus. CNS photo/Josephine von Dohlen
This mosaic in the Duc in Altum in Magdala, Israel, depicts the encounter between Mary of Magdala when she recognizes the newly Risen Jesus. CNS photo/Josephine von Dohlen
Are you the one who is to come? That plaintive question fills our hearts this Easter. It was asked in Matthew 11:3, when the imprisoned John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to Jesus. Are you the Messiah? Are you the one for whom we've been waiting?

As I sat bundled on my couch on a blustery, chilly Easter morning, participating in my parish's Mass online, I felt such a sense of unity with my faith community, such a sense that I could say affirmatively, yes, you are the one who is to come.

But faith does not always overwhelm us with its presence. We all struggle with doubt, and in a time of plague and physical isolation, we often struggle with a nagging sense of sorrow.

I find the Scripture readings that discuss Jesus' Resurrection and its aftermath to be an antidote to despair. There, we can sit with the real risen Christ. But who is he?

John the Baptist wasn't the only one wondering if Jesus was the fulfillment of God's promise. The Jewish people, a people familiar with oppression, were straining under brutal Roman rule, and some of them yearned for a liberator.

Many in Israel hoped that the Messiah would be a new David – the mighty one with the slingshot who would bring down the Roman Goliath and set the people free. They looked, some of them, for a Messiah who would wield the sword, a military hero.

When Jesus came curing the sick, giving sight to the blind, even raising someone from the dead, many hoped he was the one who was to come. Some of the crowds who hailed him as he came into Jerusalem must have hoped for political liberation, and some of those who later turned on him and demanded his Crucifixion must have felt disappointment in his seeming inability to bring down wrath upon the empire.

There are still Christians for whom this image exists: a belief that weapons and military might are the gods that will save us. They look past the Jesus of Scripture who presented such a different idea of righteousness, who continually decried greed and power and who spent his time with sinners, outcasts, the marginalized, those struggling along the borders of society.

During our liturgy, we often hear the powerful words, "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." They fill me with such a desire to be one of his own.

In the readings following the resurrection, Jesus again does not come as the conquering hero. No bells and whistles, no fireworks, no displays of triumph. Instead, he comes quietly, not appearing to the many but to the few – to those who were his own in this world.

Not, I hasten to add, to the faultless but to sinners. He came to Peter, the denier, and to Thomas the doubter. He came to his fragile and sinful little community of friends.

I remind myself of this when I feel down on myself: He did not appear to them because they loved him so well; he came to them because he loved them so well.

So, we see moments of great intimacy. We see Jesus cooking a breakfast for his friends near water's edge. We hear Mary of Magdala recognizing him in the garden when he calls her name. He offers his body, his woundedness, to Thomas so that he might believe. He joins in a dusty walk to Emmaus.

This, we learn, is who God is. John tells us God is love. That is all God is and everything God is.