Pastor’s Column March 31, 2013
Happy Easter to all especially in this wonderful Easter season! Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! On Easter Sunday we celebrate perhaps the most important event in the history of humanity. It is the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead after a painful passion, bringing victory over sin and death, opening the gates of heaven for all. Easter is really the pinnacle of our faith. Without our belief in the Resurrection of Christ, our faith would be meaningless. And so, in most places we have set aside these next eight days following Easter Sunday for celebrating this great event. We call this the Octave of Easter. It is a time of feasting and celebration, we wear white garments at church to show our joy and peace, knowing that our Lord has come to us and now has saved us from our sins. We are a people of life, of new life that comes with living out our faith daily in honoring this great sacrifice of love.
The Easter Season lasts now for 50 days. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He travels all around Judea and Galilee revealing his deep love for the apostles and all who are willing to accept and believe in Him as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Jesus will appear to the apostles without Thomas being present at first. The other Apostles will witness to the resurrection for Thomas, but he will refuse to believe. Thomas gives the conditions for his belief. He must place his finger in the wounds of Jesus’ hands and in his pierced side in order to believe. Later, Jesus will appear to all of them, this time with Thomas present. Jesus will invite him to place his finger in the wounds, into the nail marks and in His pierced side so that he might believe. Thomas’ response is then, “My Lord and my God!” And believes! Jesus takes Thomas where he is at and helps him to overcome his disbelief.
He does the same with Peter. Peter had just denied Jesus three times during the passion. The wound of this sin was very deep. And yet, when Jesus comes along on the beach, after the resurrection, He meets up with them, cooking some fish and eating it with them to help them see that it was indeed Him. Jesus finally asks Peter, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” Peter responds “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus than says “than feed my sheep.” Jesus asks Peter this three times, reaching into the depths of the pain from the wounds of the denials and heals Peter at the roots of his sin and weakness. Our Lord loves us all very much and there is nothing that He will not forgive when we place our trust and confidence in His love for us. Peter will go on years later, to be crucified upside down in Rome, suffering a martyr’s death and will remain, this time, faithful to his love for our Savior.
Towards the end of the Easter Season, coming up now in May, will be Jesus’ Ascension into heaven and His sending to us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. The apostles will still be very much afraid, fearful and insecure before the coming of the Holy Spirit. They will come down the mountain after Jesus’ Ascension and will pray and fast for nine days awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit. Then it will happen. Tongues of Fire will come down on each of them, filling them with courage and strength, healing and zeal. The Holy Spirit will come alive in their hearts in what we call Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. They will now have the courage and strength, the confidence and trust in God to go out to all the world spreading this new religion that will be called Christianity.
This mission continues with each one of us to this very day. We are all called to share this beautiful love from God to all of humanity, to transform this world from darkness into His wonderful light. We are called to become beacons of light to a world that mostly doesn’t understand authentic Christ-like love. Let us be brave and courageous in bringing this message to all who will hear it, with a child-like trust and confidence in a God that loves us all very much.
Peace, Fr. Tom