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Pastor's Letter 20220417 - 17 April 2022- Our Lord is Risen, Indeed!

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April 17th, 2022

Easter Sunday


The Empty Tomb on Easter Morning

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  

“The Lord has Risen, Indeed!” 

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Note: From now, until Pentecost, our First Readings are taken from the Acts of the Apostles, the second volume of the Gospel of Luke.)

Today’s First Reading (Acts 10: 34-43,) is a discourse in the home of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, and gives an outline of the ministry of Jesus, ending with the narrative of His resurrection—emphasizing the encounters with Jesus, by Peter and his companions.  These meetings made it possible for them to preach the reality of redemption and the forgiveness of sin.  Each successive generation of Christians can proclaim, and must proclaim, the reality and the significance of the resurrection as confidently as did Peter.  The risen Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever!  


Paul tells us that Baptism is our participation in Christ’s death and resurrection, symbolized by the ritual of being “plunged” into water (Colossians 3:1-4.)  This real sharing in Jesus’ redemptive act has profound and far-reaching repercussions in the Christian’s present moral life—entailing rejection of all that is “earthly,” or opposed to God.  It calls for pursuit of the “good life”—not by the world’s standards, but those lived by Jesus.  In so doing, we participate in the reality of Christian freedom.    By one’s sacramental “death,” we are liberated from past constraints and bound to lead a new life in conformity with the Gospel.    


(Note: In the first Gospel, of Mark, the risen Christ appears physically to no one, but by the time we come to the last Gospel, John, Thomas is invited to feel the nail prints in Christ's hands and feet and the spear wound in his side.)

Today’s Gospel selection centers on Mary Magdalene’s disturbing news of the “empty tomb,” to which Peter and the unnamed “other disciple*” react (John 20:1-9.)  Her concern that our Blessed Lord had “been taken,” rather, attests to His having “left His humanity behind.”  The *Beloved Disciple believed, immediately, and represents the Christian disciple who is sensitive, in faith and love, to the presence of the risen Jesus.  This is the only theological exception, of his seeing with the “eyes of faith,” that the empty tomb is ever regarded as evidence of the resurrection.  Christ’s resurrection signifies that the Kingdom of God has come, and God’s saving promises have been fulfilled, in Jesus.  Meaningless death, indeed, meaningless life, thereafter, has taken on true “meaning,” for us.  The resurrection demonstrates that God is, indeed, the God of humankind, holding out to all of us the promise of life beyond death!  As our risen Lord, Jesus Himself is present to us, and with us in our striving, to give substance to the Kingdom, here on earth.  He is Emmanuel—God with us!  

Confirming our Faith

Peter’s weakness is a characteristic to which everyone can relate.  He has been called the “stumbling saint.”  He is a favorite with many, probably because his human frailty makes us feel kinship with him.  Courage fails us all—in the end, we are mere mortals, who are inconstant in our beliefs.  No matter how strong we purport to believe, in anything, for that matter, life’s vagaries and challenges rise up to test our convictions.  In times of distress, we all are taken to task for our willingness to hold fast to our beliefs.  At the lowest moments in our lives, we confront a very painful truth about ourselves:  we have feet of clay!  At such times we discover we are not as strong, or brave, or as generous as we thought we were.  We should not judge ourselves, or others, by momentary lapses, but by commitment over a long time to our beliefs.

As with Peter, our Blessed Lord Jesus knows this about us, and doesn’t “write us off.”  He continues to believe in us….  He knows there is a “better side” to us, and after considered contemplation, He knows we will once again proclaim our most fervent principles, and return to Him.  This is the promise that He made to each of us—for unlimited “second chances” to repent and accept His grace.  Until the point of our death, we have opportunities to assert our faith in our Savior, and God.  It was Jesus who confirmed the faith of Peter.  The same risen Lord confirms us in our faith, too.  We are a community of believers, whose common faith strengthens the faith of each individual….

Making the “Leap of Faith”

Sometimes we envy the apostles and the first disciples.  We are convinced they had an advantage over all later Christians, because they were actually present at the events related by the Gospels.  They saw the risen Jesus with their own eyes, and touched Him with their own hands.  We conclude, therefore, that faith was easy for them.  And we are convinced it would be easy for us, too, if we could see Jesus, personally, as the apostles did, or if only we could see for ourselves the miracles He performed, as the first disciples did.  

It’s true, those first apostles and disciples had the advantage of seeing Jesus firsthand, but one wonders if that made their faith any easier, really….  When they looked at Jesus, they did not, and could not, have seen God—for God is not immediately visible and knowable.  In Jesus, they saw a human being, like themselves.  But to go from there to believe that He was the Son of God required a huge act of faith!  

This accounts for many that heard Jesus speak and saw Him act, who yet did not believe in Him!  We learn from the Gospels that even the apostles were slow to believe.  Seeing is not necessarily believing!  The shock caused by Jesus’ passion and death on the cross was so great that the apostles were also slow to believe in the news of His Resurrection!  When Jesus appeared to them on Easter evening, He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen (Matthew 16:14.)  

So, in our case, we can’t see Jesus the way the apostles and disciples saw Him.  We can’t be present in the upper room, going over the events of Holy Week when Jesus “drops in.”  We can’t put our fingers in His wounds, or look at His glorified face and say “My Lord and my God!”  We must live by faith, not by sight.  Yet, if we would believe in Jesus, we must see Him, somehow….  That means we must ask ourselves how people like us can be made to see Him—and what must we do in order to believe.  

In truth, we are disciples at second hand.  That means some things are more difficult, but others are easier.  In the nearly 20 centuries since Jesus walked the earth, a lot of “dust” has gathered; His “light” has dimmed.  On the positive side, however, the notion that the Son of God walked the earth has become “naturalized,” over time, so, in some ways, it has become even easier to believe.  But at the end of the day, all disciples are essentially equal—all have to make the “leap of faith,” and become disciples through faith!  

Jesus’ friends saw Him and heard Him only a few times after that Easter day, but their lives were completely changed.  And by sharing their faith, our lives will be changed, too.  We are able to travel in hope because we know that good will triumph over evil, and life will triumph over death…because Jesus has risen!

May God Richly Bless You!

"Let the Risen Jesus enter your life.  Welcome Him as a friend, with trust.  He is life!  If, up 'til now, you have kept Him at a distance, step forward.  He will receive you with open arms.  If you have been indifferent, take a risk; you won't be disappointed.  If following Him seems difficult, don't be afraid.  Trust Him.  Be confident that He is close to you.  He is with you.  He will give you the peace for which you are looking, and the strength to live as He would have you do."

~~Pope Francis, March, 2013~~

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:  https://youtu.be/1q3DsbhS7wQProclaim the Glory of the Lord.docx


Edited by Father Michael
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