Christ is risen, alleluia! Good evening dear sisters and brothers in Christ. So, how are you? How is your family? Although we are in Easter joy, nevertheless, life goes on. I was in a parish this morning that is grieving because their elderly English choir leader was killed by fire in his sleep this week, leaving his elderly handicapped wife with burned lungs and throat. Life is not a picnic by any stretch of the imagination.
The troubles of life often leave us sick to our stomach, flabbergasted, and in shock. All the evil in the world seems an insult to life and to our human dignity. In fact, God is even more horrified than we are in the face of all that is evil. What’s even more astounding is that God understands our inability to react or to respond when evil knocks us down.
The Acts of the Apostles remind us that God in his goodness shows understanding to the people and religious leaders who put Jesus to death. God had already foreseen that his envoy from Heaven would be rejected and killed, but He fully intended to make of his death the very instrument by which God would offer us liberation from our sins, from every evil, and from the very fear of death itself.
Admittedly, it is difficult for us on seeing Jesus to acknowledge him the Son of God and our Lord. Even the Apostles “were startled and terrified” when Jesus appeared to them. They remained “frightened… and doubts arose in their hearts… disbelieving and still wondering” for quite some time. Jesus made considerable efforts to convince them that it was indeed Him and that He had indeed overcome death itself.
As incredible as it seems, God has confidence in us, even though from all time God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit had foreseen that when the Son would come to Earth, very few of us would be capable of welcoming Him, and the powerful among us would put Him to death. Not only had the Father foreseen this disaster, but He wanted that Jesus’ death would give ultimate expression to the merciful love of God for humanity.
In spite of their terror and astonishment, their doubt, and their slowness to believe all that Jesus had taught them, Jesus is fully confident in his Apostles. He takes the time to “open their minds to understand the Scriptures”. Then, concerning all these things, Jesus said to them “You are witnesses of these things.” Notice that Jesus did not send them out to the whole world; He did not put pressure on them to carry on his mission. No. Jesus left them entirely free and to their own initiative to decide for themselves whether they wanted to be his witnesses.
Brothers and sisters, do you realize how free you are before God? God does not push you in the back to do this or to do that…. What God desires is that we all personally meet Jesus, that we may become convinced ourselves that Jesus is living, that He is risen from the dead, that He is with us, that He loves us, and that He would like us to be his witnesses today. Jesus wants to share with us his own joy and He wants our joy to be complete, but He wants it to be really our own experience, that we may truly taste the goodness of his love within us.
It's possible for us to meet God when life is wonderful, when we are successful, when all goes well, when we find nature beautiful, when it feels good to be alive. Yes. But more often than not, when all goes well, we are inclined to not even think about God. We all too often forget to thank Him. We don’t realize that the most important reason to go to church on Sunday is to give thanks to God and glorify Him. We don’t often think during the day to adore the Lord in his grandeur, in his goodness, for his love and for his inexhaustible mercy. We are often distracted.
As it is, all too often it is when things go wrong, when we suffer, when we feel alone or rejected, all too often it is in the storm that we think of God. When we finally do turn to Him, He lets us know that He is always there for us, that He is always here, and always ready to rescue us and to welcome us into his love. Jesus calls us to not be afraid to live, to not be afraid of life, to not be afraid of the unknown; for He is always with us.
When we are tempted, Jesus gives us his Spirit to helps us resist the temptation and to put all our trust in Him. When we are in pain, Jesus reminds us that He endured his passion so that he could share all our distress; so that we might realize by his presence that we are never alone and that He is our strength.
When we are faced with people who bother us, Jesus helps us to understand that these people are offered to us by God to provide us with the opportunity to love our neighbor as God loves us, even when they are difficult to love.
In the storm of our emotions, we can, with Jesus, stop, remember, and put our trust in the love of God for us, and encouraged by his love, we can choose to go through our trials with attitudes of love and of peace. In spire of the burden of our emotions, we can put aside our anxieties, preoccupations, and worries, and instead turn to God, and with God we can show mercy to our neighbor, our family, and even to strangers. Christ is risen, alleluia!
Allowing God to manifest the power of his love and mercy through us in all our encounters with others, this is the joy of Easter! Let us find our delight in God the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us take a few moments in reflect on Jesus radiant presence among us.
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