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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ Meeting the Risen Jesus in the Midst of Life

This weekend is the 3rd Sunday of the Easter season. Two Sunday’s ago we celebrated the Feast of Easter. Last Sunday, a week later the global Orthodox Christians, including those in Ukraine celebrated the Feast of Easter. What our Orthodox cousins were marking was exactly what we celebrated on the previous Sunday.

Easter is the most significant feast in our Christian faith, marking the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus. For all of us, Easter expresses the promise and hope of new life for all humanity and for all creation. At its center is the hope that God’s life-giving love showers upon us. In Ukraine, whether Catholic or Orthodox, Easter has the same meaning and significance. We hold dearly the same faith as disciples of Jesus the Christ.

This Easter, was different for the people of Ukraine. They find themselves plunged into a deadly war, surrounded by death and destruction. In the midst of such circumstances, it is difficult to focus on God’s life-giving love. It is hard to pray with faith and hope. Yet, Easter took place. With all the threatening clouds of the war, Ukrainians welcomed Easter. They marked it with firm faith and striking expressions of hope. The ground of their hope is founded on the very faith on which we, like the first disciples of Jesus the Christ base our own.

Throughout the season of Easter, we Catholic Christians, like our Orthodox sisters and brothers are called to reflect on scriptural accounts of the Risen Jesus. This Sunday, we again hear of an appearance of the Jesus in the Gospel of John (21:1-19). The encounter brings the disciples excitement and reassurance. Additionally, as so often is the case, the disciples find themselves called to mission, to service and sacrifice for others. In other words, they are to be bearers of the risen Jesus to others.

In John’s account, three time the Risen One asks Peter if he loves him. With each of Peter’s responses, Jesus calls him to care for and look after all of God’s people, to “tend” and “feed” them, just as he has done.

For Jesus, his mission was to proclaim and reveal the kingdom of God among us. Where there is love and openness to one another, where there is life-giving love, then there is the kingdom of God. Jesus revealed this along the roads of Galilee. We walk the roads of our own time and places, as did the disciples of Jesus in their time and place. Here we find the kingdom, the way of heaven, and hope. It is planted in the midst of our lives.

The Franciscan spiritual writer, Richard Rohr spoke of this hope in an Easter season reflection: “Heaven is not about belonging to the right group; it’s not about following the correct rituals. It’s about having the right attitude.” (28 April, 2019). This attitude is one of being life-giving, as Jesus is. Heaven is part of our life journey, not just somewhere out there in the future. Living our present life with love and compassion and service is the indication of heaven already begun among us.

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