After the Resurrection, Christ never condemned anyone … you are always welcome back to God’s love
We tend to skip over some details in the Gospel, as though they are simply decoration to set the scene. In a way that’s correct: but we just see the superficial effect:
eg. the upper room is just a nice upstairs apartment away from the noise; better for privacy.
But almost every Word in the Gospels can teach us something, they are not simply decorations.
Last Sunday we were, hopefully, very happy as we recalled the Resurrection of Christ: there is hope for us. This Sunday, we learn what we need to do if we are to receive the Resurrection in our hearts: that it can make a difference in our lives.
“the First Day of the week”: indicates that we have a chance to make a new beginning.
Jesus has promised to remain with us as our brother, our companion and our guide: but do we ignore Jesus as we discover other consolations: drinking, drugs, materialism, porn, etc.
“the upper room”: challenges us to leave behind (rise above) our addictions and petty thoughts about others. eg. instead of dismissing someone because of their actions, we can start thinking: “I wonder what suffering they had to make them act like that?”
So, today, to embrace the Resurrection, we have to make a decision: are we willing to make changes in our lives to encounter Christ? To reduce negativity in our thinking and actions?
While preoccupied by negative thoughts of others, we struggle to receive the gifts of Christ.
On that evening of the first day, Christ gave us three Easter gifts:
1. the gift of Peace: “Peace be with you, my peace I give you.”
But it is a peace that requires us to a more intimate communion with God. The gift of Jesus cannot just be adored to receive peace, but has to be imitated to receive that special peace.
- the gift of love: “and showed them his hands and his side.” By inviting the disciples to touch and feel the wounds they/ we come to know and understand how great is his love for us. When couples have verbal fights, and then sit down to eat a meal together, it’s a way of showing that same love. Don’t run away and hide: staying together creates opportunities for healing.
- The gift of God’s forgiveness: this is evidenced by the physical presence of Jesus coming back to visit them. We never hear Jesus condemning people who abandoned Him during the Passion. How good are we at simply serving each other as we should, instead of reminding each other where we failed?
In a practical sense, can our faith in God help us rise above some addiction that we may have?
How many of our younger people are caught up in the addiction of materialism? Or pornography? Or alcohol/ drugs?
My friends, do not lose hope. The actions of Jesus Christ, after the Resurrection, should be a great encouragement for each of us:
we are not condemned…
God is very gentle…
Ready to encourage us…
Invite people to come back to Church, just once. There was a study done recently where a large proportion of people said they would come to Mass if someone invited them.
Long ago, Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI shared the story of a young man who had gone away from the Church and decided to start coming back. The young man decided to receive Holy Communion even though it had been long since he had been to Confession.
However, after receiving Holy Communion, he found the strength to go to Confession. So, let us not be strict on people, or ourselves. Let us simply invite people back to the embrace of love that God can give in our Church activities: friendship, welcoming, non-judging.
Often, it is only after an experience of love that people find the courage to let go of the false securities they have adopted to get them through one day at a time. “These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.”
And, for ourselves, who have hopefully started on the journey back to God’s love, do not be discouraged when we slip backwards, or find it difficult to give up all of our addiction(s).
Let’s remember the beautiful song: one day a time sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking of you.
Finally, let us lose the habit of criticising: let’s develop the habit of listening and trying to understand our brothers and sisters: Peace be with you!
Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen. Happy Easter!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI