We have been prayerfully preparing for this celebration for weeks. These more recent days we have been getting up close and personal with the drama of Jesus’ receiving more totally Himself and our human family.
Today we receive the blessings which flow from His fidelity. Preparation is over, reception is just beginning.
For the next seven weeks, we will hear much of the struggles and growth of the early Christian community. The Acts of the Apostles, written, apparently, by the author of the Gospel of Luke, is a collection of events which form the fallout from the rising from the dead of Jesus. The little groups of believer’s moves out from its birthplace of Jerusalem and begins the extension of Christ’s resurrectional embrace of all creation and all humankind.
We hear in today’s First Reading Peter’s short biography of Jesus. He, Peter, has been summoned by a devout centurion named Cornelius who during his prayer had a vision. He is told to fetch Simon, known as Peter, who will help him understand the vision. Peter arrives and speaks to the assembled the words of today’s First Reading. What Peter speaks is a compilation of the major aspects of his belief in this new way. It is almost a sort of outline, topical sentences of which each one will be developed in later writings and preachings. It is important to note that Peter assumes that everyone has heard all he is saying. It is the author’s method to keep presenting and reminding the readers of the basic “company line”.
Our Easter Gospel is a story of Hide and Go Seek. Mary Magdala goes to the tomb and finds emptiness. The stone has been removed from the burial opening and Jesus is gone. When she informs Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved, they run and find emptiness as well, except they find evidence that Jesus had been there in a burial posture.“ Now-you-see-him, now-you-see-him-differently” continues during these Easter days. For us it can seem a game; for Jesus it is a process of inviting his followers to deeper faith. He seems to hide, then appears, then vanishes and all so that his followers will keep seeking.
It is this “seeking” which is so central to Easter grace. Jesus is the primary seeker and his foundlings are ourselves. He moves through the "Resurrection Narratives" collecting, consoling, confronting, and eventually missioning the early believers, or doubters. In turn, we are the seekers as well. We are invited to keep looking for Jesus, even in the emptinesses of life. Jesus is “translocational”. We would like to grab hold of him, but he would say to us, “Do not cling to me, but go to my new body, my different, but real presence in community, in relationships, and within your own emptinesses”.
C. S. Lewis, in his wonderful book, Surprised By Joy, writes that real joy is more in the seeking than the finding. We might have trouble with that idea until we live it a while. What do we find when we find what we have been seeking? Eventually we will find that every answer leads to the next question. Every good and more than wonderful experience, relationship, ecstasy, does end or has certain little holes in them. So there is an empty tomb in all of life’s joys that invites us to “seek” and you shall find. What will we find? We will gracefully discover the invitation to seek some more. Is that a terrible tricky game that the Divine Magician is playing on us? Maybe!
We are believers because we do not know, but we grow more deeply as humans the more we keep reaching towards, looking for, hungering after, and always in a spirit of gratitude.
Everything ends, including this Reflection, and where it ends Jesus is waiting to find us and be found. He has risen, but not disappeared. He has risen from the dead to bring life to the seekers. Hope you can watch a group of little children at an Easter Egg Hunt and notice their joy is in the looking for. And if they find one, they will want to find one more. So again, it is by little children that we learn basic human truths. Alleluia!
“Christ our Passover has been sacrificed, alleluia;therefore let us keep the feast with unleavened bread of purity and truth, alleluia, alleluia.” 1 Cor. 5, 7-8
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