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Father Muench Says...

We’re there in the Easter Scriptures

April 19, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The Easter Season. We, Catholics, celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus for more than one day. Rather, it is an extended time of 40 days. This Easter Season leads us to the Pentecost, when we will remember the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, the beginning of the building of our Holy Catholic Church.

The Easter Season is the time for the reading of the resurrection stories from the Gospels. There are many. These stories are familiar to you all. They are truly impressive and transforming Scriptures. Today, I want to encourage you to realize that these stories are about us; we must find ourselves in each story. In this way, we will realize our relationship with the Lord Jesus. Let me share with you a few examples.

Do you remember the story when Mary Magdalene discovered that the tomb was empty. She rushed to tell Peter and John. They ran to the tomb to see for themselves. Can you begin to imagine just how spectacular that moment was for them. We will understand that first Easter better if we see ourselves running with Peter and John. They had absorbed the horror of the crucifixion and now the excitement of the resurrection. This was a moment of surprise and of joyful excitement. Jesus lives. We must experience the discovery of the empty tomb each new Easter. Jesus lives!

Then the story of Mary Magdalene standing at the empty tomb. Jesus comes to stand near her, but, we are told, Mary could not recognize that it was Jesus. She thinks he is the gardener. She insists he tell her where they have moved the Lord’s body. Jesus simply speaks her name, Mary, and she realizes that it is him. I believe that the Lord comes to stand with us often. However, we like Mary do not recognize that is Jesus. Yet, at the end of the day, I believe when we look back over our day, we will remember times when it was the presence of the Lord touching our lives. And if we are truly perceptive, we will remember the Lord speaking our name.

There is also the story on the lake shore. The apostles decide to go fishing. When they come ashore, there is Jesus preparing to cook a breakfast of some of the fish. We can also remember when Jesus takes Peter aside. Jesus carefully offers a welcome to Peter – a time of reconciliation. Peter is truly remorseful of his cowardice that caused him to deny even knowing the Lord. Jesus speaks with loving forgiveness, leading Peter to reconciliation. Jesus surprises us when he simply says, “Peter, do you love me?” For Jesus this is what reconciliation is all about. I believe that Jesus makes it very clear for us: each time we approach the Sacrament of Penance, the Lord meets us at the door of the confessional and asks us, just as he asked Peter, “Do you love me?” How do you respond? This is the most important question that is asked of us by the Lord as we seek reconciliation.

One more for today. There is the story in Luke’s Gospel concerning two disciples (I am certain that they were a married couple) who are heading home to Emmaus from Jerusalem after witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus. We are told that Jesus came along and walked with them, but they did not recognize that it was him. They discuss the events of the Lord’s passion and death. Jesus, who is still a stranger to them, describes for them from the Scriptures that the Messiah must suffer to bring redemption to us all. They would finally recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

How often does the Lord meet us and walk with us. So many times, yet we do not recognize that it is the Lord, as he leads us, teaches us, guides, forgives and makes his love alive for us. Like those two disciples we will often recognize the presence of Our Lord in our participation in the Holy Eucharist. Each time we receive Holy Communion, I know Jesus comes to be with us in a loving relationship.

Easter: our crucified Jesus is raised from the dead. And we are there.

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