Reflection for Sunday – April 17, 2022
Readings: Acts 10: 34a, 37-43; Colossians; 3: 1-24 John 20: 1-9
Preacher: Cathy Kamp
As anyone who has ever worked with RCIA candidates knows, there is just nothing like making the journey of faith with another person. Having the privilege of observing a small seed of faith grow and blossom, watching a child of God move from the darkness toward the light is a very special kind of ministry.
The journey of the RCIA candidate is not unlike the path that so many of us take, even when we are baptized as infants. The Lord plants a seed of faith in our hearts, but it takes a lifetime to nurture that faith. We are blessed when we have people of faith — soul friends or Church ministers — who accompany us on this journey.
In John’s Gospel for Easter, the disciples of Jesus don’t exactly seem like they are accompanying one another. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb alone, in the dark, and she runs to tell Peter and the others. Peter and the one that Jesus loved go running to the tomb with the evangelist even pointing out who runs the faster. It seems quite chaotic and nothing like the solemnity the moment deserves. Yet, even though Peter enters first, it is the other disciple, the one that Jesus loves, who sees the burial clothes with eyes of faith.
Does this mean that Peter and Mary Magdalene lived the rest of their earthly lives in the dark? Far from it! In the First Reading for Easter from the Acts of the Apostles we see that it did not take long for Peter to assume the mantle of leadership that had been entrusted to him by Jesus. And in the Gospels for the coming Sundays of the Easter Season, we see how Peter’s faith in the Resurrection of Jesus is gradually illumined so that with the other disciples and the earliest Christian community, the Church was conceived and born anew.
On Tuesday in the Octave of Easter, we also hear how the Gospel of John continues with the story of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene in the garden. It is in that encounter with the Risen Lord that Mary comes to understand not only that Jesus has been resurrected from the dead but that she has a mission as the Apostle to the Apostles to utter the words, “I have seen the Lord.”
Indeed, it is when the disciples encounter Jesus and accompany one another, bolstering each other with words of hope, that the Church begins to take root. In what appears to be a very short span of time, the Gospels take us from dark, sad moments of chaos and lack of understanding to a time of great spiritual enlightenment that changed the world forever.
While so much was still unknown and beyond the realm of human understanding, Peter and Mary take on leadership roles that allowed others to see with eyes of faith. Today, we, as people of faith, are called to do the same. Perhaps now, as we are emerging from the darkness and isolation of the pandemic, this call is more important than ever. We cannot see exactly what lies ahead for any of us and yet, with eyes of faith, we can see that it’s time for those of us who are able to set the burial cloths of Covid-19 aside and invite others back into the light of Christ, the miracle of the Eucharist.
This Easter, we have a profound opportunity to demonstrate hospitality in bold new ways to those who are returning to Mass. The Church environment may need to feel especially comfortable to people returning after two years, or for people who are reticent about crowds.
Whether it is the Easter Vigil when we literally travel from the darkness to the light of Christ symbolized in the flame of the Paschal Candle, or the joy of Easter morning and a sanctuary full of glorious flowers, may these signs of Christian faith and new life inspire us to embody what it means to encounter the Risen Lord. Like Peter and Mary, though we cannot fully comprehend the Resurrection or the meaning of the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion, may we accept our roles, lay and ordained, as the messengers of Christ.
May we not appear to be racing around like the disciples on Easter morning. Let’s trust in the Lord that all will be well and focus on accompanying all who enter our Church doors with the love of Jesus. May we all encounter Jesus in hope-filled new ways, each of us going forth to nurture the seeds of faith planted within ourselves and our soul friends.