So That You May Believe

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Christ has Risen!  Truly Risen! This is the greeting of Eastern Christians for this wonderful Season of Easter, as we were saying last week to everyone and especially those who had come perhaps for the first time in a while.   Christ is alive today and has a wonderful power to transform us.  It took the apostles a lot of time to understand this.  The last thing they had on their minds was a crucified Messiah and one who rose from the dead, and was not a walking corpse.

Without the resurrection we are merely social workers, do-gooders, nice guys.  The resurrection changes all of reality.  Who Jesus is or was depends on if he rose from the grave.  It is something crucial for all mankind.

We can see from the gospel from this Divine Mercy Sunday (John 20: 19-31) that the apostles were still not sure of what to make of the events of that first Easter.  This is typified in Thomas who was missing when the Lord returned to them by walking through the locked doors.  He said perhaps what many other people were saying then and are saying now.  Let me see him and touch him and then I will believe.

When Jesus arrives to the upper room the apostles are locked inside and terrified.  Jesus does not condemn them or blame them for their weaknesses and their failures from Good Friday.  He shows only mercy to them.  He says, “Peace be with you.”  And he says it many times.  It means, I sense, I forgive you; I don’t hold anything against you.   I knew this would happen, and I come to give you peace!

He also says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  Give this peace to others; it is not just something for you; it is for the world.  So don’t be afraid to proclaim it.  Hopefully, you had an experience of this peace at Easter.  Speak to others about it as the occasions arise.  Announce the gospel, St. Francis says, sometimes by even speaking.  People will see the difference in you when you have an experience of the Resurrection.

“Blessed are you who have not seen and yet believed,” Jesus tells Thomas.  Who is he speaking about?  You and me.  We have not seen him but we believe; when we hear the preaching, and believe it (or don’t believe it) we have the opportunity to come to believe, to continue to believe, to grow in belief.  Faith comes from the preaching, from the hearing of the Word of God.   And when you and I believe we can be as close to the resurrection as the first apostles.   That is the purpose of the gospels and all of Scripture that believing in Jesus Christ you will have life in his name.  God gives us many signs to help our faith: the upcoming renovation of our church is a big sign for us.

It is important that we all share the same vision in the parish of what God is doing here and wants to do here.  For the Sundays of Easter we will explore this vision in a new series and this will help us to all partake in this vision for St. Joe’s.  A phrase that keeps coming back to me is that our parish will one day be: a community of communities where no one is alone, and where the other is Christ.   This means that each one of us belongs in some way to the parish and through it we find Jesus Christ.

Today it is not possible to find Christ on our own; we need a community, a group of brothers and sisters who will show us the way to God.  We need to flesh out what this means for us, and the hope that it will give us for the future.  Join us for the Easter Mission across the street in the park after the Noon Mass to hear a word of God for us.