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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories: Easter People – Community of Hope & New Life

We are Easter People. The great sign of our faith is that Jesus is Risen. Every time we gather for Eucharist we share at the Table of the Lord, the Risen Lord. The most appropriate symbol for this Table is the Risen Lord, for we are an Easter People, not a Good Friday community.

Throughout the season we hear and reflect on a whole series of the stories relating the core of our faith. Easter brings us through the entire history of human salvation. We journey through the accounts of creation, liberation, restoration and resurrection. These are stories of many new beginnings, many experiences of new life. In this journey we leave behind the cross with its suffering and death and we move to the promised liberation and healing of God’s dream for all humanity. The Risen Jesus is the symbol and sign of God’s promise given through Jesus to all – the promise of resurrection, fullness of life.

The season is replete with images and stories of the Risen Jesus appearing to the disciples in various settings. It is full of accounts of the impact of this Risen Jesus on his followers. They marked by both excitement and hope. For them it is a time of renewal and promise. The Gospel of the Sunday following the Easter feast (John 20:19-31) offers us a picture of the liberation and healing that comes with the ongoing gift of the Spirit and the presence of the Risen One.

One of the striking elements of the story in John’s Gospel is something that appears as well in other Gospel stories of appearances. It is the greeting that Jesus offers as he comes among the disciples: Peace be with you. Peace can mean many things – absence of war and conflict, quiet and silence, unity and good relations. In the Gospel stories of the appearances of the Risen Jesus, peace is an indication of the healing and liberation that comes with the gift of the Spirit.

It is no small thing that John describes the disciples as locked in a room and cowering in fear. For them there was a great threat that what happened to Jesus would happen to them. They were mourning, confused and terrified. Their hearts were still at Good Friday. With the vision of the Risen Jesus, they sensed the presence of the Jesus they had lost. His presence and the Spirit stirred them to a new vision.

With the gift of the Spirit, they became Easter People. Gradually they came to realize that the message and the mission that Jesus proclaimed was now theirs. The peace that came upon them with the presence of Jesus risen, was theirs to take to the world. Filled with that Spirit they were to liberate, to heal, to reconcile the world into which they went.

We are Easter People, bearers and proclaimers of Good News. It is the Good News that the world is God’s created gift and that God will never cease in loving us. From this love comes life, even in the face of death, new life. This is a message and a mission of hope for all. Filled with the Spirit, we are the presence of Jesus to all humanity and all creation. Jesus risen, continues in our world, through all who take up his message and mission of healing, forgiveness and liberation for all. Peace be with you.

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