In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter, the Risen Lord appears to the disciples in the Upper Room. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20: 19-20). The Risen Lord passes through the locked doors. Nothing deters him from bringing peace of God to his frightened disciples. I have been afraid too. My fear of getting hurt by rejection, unrealistic demands, broken relationships, economic hardship, suffering, and more keeps my heart locked from God’s love. Fear disables me from loving others as fully as I can. I pray for the Peace of the Risen Lord to overcome the fear thwarting my love for others. How has the Risen Lord helped release you from your fear to love someone in need?
In the Gospel for Easter Sunday, Mary of Magdala goes to the tomb of Jesus and finds it empty. She runs to tell Simon Peter and the other disciples. They run to the tomb. The beloved disciple arrives first. Then Peter arrives. He enters the tomb to only find the burial cloths. “Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (John 20: 8). The beloved disciple immediately believes in the Resurrection. My faith in the resurrection has matured throughout my life. This Easter I know that the self giving love of Jesus is available to me and all who believe in the Risen Lord. I have witnessed the self giving love of my parents, my spouse, my children, my friends, my neighbors, and strangers. I have even surprised myself by my acts of unconditional love for others. What acts of self giving love have you seen or done that strengthen your faith in the Resurrection?
In the Gospel for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Jesus is arrested. “And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword’ ” (Matthew 26: 51-52). Jesus exemplifies the love of enemy which he taught his disciples. He refuses to respond to the violence of his arrest with violence. He knows that love is more powerful than hate. Jesus witnesses throughout his passion and death to God’s loving mercy for his executors. I struggle daily to be loving and merciful to my family, friends, and co-workers let alone my enemies. I am sorry for any swords of jealously, prejudice, indifference, false judgements, and more I have wielded against others. For what swords of violence to the dignity of others do you need God’s help to put back?
In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. “He cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, ‘Untie him and let him go’ ” (John 11: 43-44). Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Then he orders the bandages untied. He releases Lazarus from the grip of death. Sin is a death too. It threatens our life with God. Sin can grab hold of us and not let go. We all do hurtful things to others that we resolved not to do. But we do them anyway. I regret I succumb to the temptation to say hurtful things to my wife when I feel hurt by her. Christ has the power to free me from this tendency to sin. Christ unties me from the restraints of hurtful actions. Christ releases me from the grip of sin to love God and others freely and selflessly. How has God freed you from sin? How have you helped free others?