We can pray with whatever spirit is ours at any one time. There are no expectations, no “suppose-tos” in the spiritual life. There are wants, longings, emptinesses and fullness, but we pray always with where we are. These next days we will hear of how Jesus was meeting His friends where ever He could find them. Some were lost some disappointed, and He met them and resurrected their spirits. We pray to be found and that just might take the grace of accepting that we are lost at times and disappointed.
We pray that the grace of Easter joy is given so that we might find peace in being found and sent to untomb others by the One Who was untomb. The joy is that we are the found by the Divine Finder.
We will be hearing for the next weeks from the book of The Acts of the Apostles. Peter is one of the main characters as leader of the early Church. What we hear in this First Reading is a profession of faith by Peter given in the presence of a strange group.
Cornelius is a Roman Centurion and is devout, prayerful and generous. During a specific prayer-time, he receives a vision in which he is told that his prayers and alms-giving have been blest by God. He is then told to send for Peter to come and visit him.
When Peter arrives, Cornelius falls at Peter’s feet, but Peter tells him that he, Peter, is not God and raises him to his feet. Cornelius then invites Peter into the house to meet his friends and relatives. Peter then makes quite a statement. He agrees to go in, even though in the Jewish tradition it is not lawful to enter a non-Jewish house or relate with non-Jews. Peter says that he now knows that nothing is profane nor unclean.
Upon entering, Cornelius asks Peter what is the message that God wants to give them through Peter. Our Reading is Peter’s address to the group of non-Jews assembled. It is a brief, but pointed, review of the life and recent death of Jesus. He tells them as well about the resurrection or rising of Jesus and how He had been seen by many.
The Reading ends with a simple summary of the commission Peter and the other apostles have been given to preach forgiveness of sins through the Name of Him who has been raised. The chapter ends with the Holy Spirit coming upon the group and Peter declaring that there is no reason why these “pagans” cannot be baptized. Some of the Jewish companions see a bit of a problem about this, but Peter sees the working of God, whose embrace is seen now as extending beyond the Jewish nation. Peter’s words begin the saving teaching which will form the basic beliefs of the early church.
The Gospel is clear and straight forward. Mary Magdala is disappointed in her not finding Jesus in the tomb. John and Peter are pictured as seeing and believing. As for us, there is no Jesus, just the empty tomb and the faith experience which brought them back from their personal and communal sense of being disappointed in themselves as well as in not finding Jesus dead. It was the time of day, early dawn, when things are not as clear as later in the day. The sun was rising, and as with the rising of Jesus, they begin seeing things a little more clearly. This is their beginning of their being baptized into Jesus. It is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Apostles.
For us who have recelebrated our baptisms, we have also had our disappointments, in ourselves and in our not finding Jesus when we have sought Him. In reading over the appearances of Jesus after His Resurrection, we encounter human disappointment every time. They are befuddled, discouraged, lost, sad, and isolated. They had hoped Jesus would be many things for them. They were not expecting Him to die and especially not to rise. The word “expect” comes from the words meaning to “watch-for”.
With His appearing to each of them and to the group, Jesus continues their baptismal rituals. He meets them in some soft dawnlike light in which they recognize Him, but not right away. Then Jesus does something by which they do see Him, but in a different manner. They are being baptized into a faith community and not initiated into a circle-of-certainty. Easter for us is the celebration of Jesus’ rising, and ours as well. For those who have gone through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and were baptized at the Easter Vigil, they enter now, with us, a life of the constant Rite of Initiation of the Appointed. Dis-appointed is the result of our expectations about God, others and ourselves. After having been baptized into Christ as the Beloved, we will experience dawnlike poor faith-sight. The “Appointed” or blest and sent, trust the dim and keep watching for the Light. So this new life is a Rite of Seeing, in which we watch for something new to happen when the old is a disappointment. Cornelius, Magdala, Peter, John, you and I are always beginning this way of watching, seeing, expecting and receiving. We pray and live in the dawn, waiting for the sun’s light and the Light of the Son.
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice.” Ps. 11
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