Easter Meditation: Today, we consider the mystery at the heart of the Christian faith. It is extraordinary but straightforward and powerful. It was so mind-blowing that even the disciples and the apostles Jesus told it would happen didn’t believe it until they saw him. It shattered all their concepts of life. In the whole history of humanity, death was the greatest fear, the curse to wish or inflict on your worst enemies. It was conquered. “Christ is Risen,” says it all. We can no longer live the same way now that death has been defeated in Christ.
In today’s First Reading St. Peter reminds us that the Risen Christ only revealed himself to those who believed in him.
Only those who believed in him were then blessed by meeting and eating and drinking with the Risen Lord. He reminds us that “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” On the day of our Baptism, we had an encounter with the Risen Lord that transformed us into children pleasing to Our Heavenly Father, and he continues to reveal himself to those who believe in him. An encounter with the Risen Christ in faith is always a salvific and transforming experience.
In today’s Second Reading St. Paul reminds us that an outlook of faith keeps our eyes fixed on the things of above.
When we gaze above in faith, we know the Risen Christ stands at the right hand of His Father and intercedes for us. If we don’t see him, it is because our faith is not strong enough, and we need to beg for more. Pope Francis describes a particular class of Christians in Evangelii Gaudium who seem to live a permanent Lent. In essence, they have not had any experience of the Lord and his love, and, therefore, the Gospel brings them no joy.
The Resurrection banishes vanity from our lives and changes our perspective.
In today’s Gospel, we see that the Resurrection didn’t sink in for the disciples until they witnessed the results themselves. It leaves us in hopeful suspense because death no longer had the last word.
The disciples had all the facts. Christ could raise the dead. Martha saw his brother Lazarus raised after three days in the tomb. The mourners of the dead little girl’s daughter mocked Jesus when he said she was sleeping, and then he “woke” her up. Even Mary thought today that the body had been stolen. The disciples walking to Emmaus had all the facts. After the Transfiguration, he told Peter not to tell anyone until he was raised from the dead and kept repeating that he would be raised from the dead on the third day.
The disciples were clueless. We can’t blame them. Even today, there are a lot of disciples of Christ who are clueless. All the facts are at hand, but they lack faith, and so they live as if eternal life is a fairy tale. We have many more signs that they did: the Church has testified to the Resurrection for over two thousand years, and many of her children have gone to the grave believing that someday they would rise, just as Our Lord did.
Like John in today’s Gospel, let’s look at the signs of Jesus’ Resurrection–an empty tomb, a suspiciously well-folded head wrapping–and simply believe.
Fr. Tim’s Comments:
- Happy Easter to everyone! It’s an old Catholic tradition that we greet each other with a special and unique greeting this weekend. The first person says, “Christ has risen” to which we reply, “He has risen indeed!” This year we need to hold firmer than most to this conviction as the COVID-19 virus denies us the opportunity to gather together in one place for all our traditional Easter celebrations. We usually come together in Churches and as families gathered around the supper table to share in a feast of good food under one roof, something we’re denied this year. But this does not mean that Jesus is not still in our midst, nor is love somehow lost between the various members and generations of families because we cannot gather as one. We just have to focus on the all the harder on how Jesus (to steal a line often used at Christmas) is in truth ‘the reason for the season.’ May the joy of Christ fill our hearts with grace, love, and laughter this weekend. And may we take a lesson from our elder brothers and sisters of faith, the Jewish people, who pray each Passover, “next year in Jerusalem.” For us, may “next year” bring us the opportunity to gather in our Churches and homes once again. Until then, let us content ourselves with the fact that “Jesus has risen.” “He has risen indeed.”
- Still looking for a way to offer your financial support to keep our parishes going throughout this lockdown? We have finally established an account with CanadaHelps.org, an association of Canadian charities that have come together to create a means to do just that. You will find on the left-hand side of this blog page their widget that allows you to make a donation either using a credit card or a PayPal account. I sincerely thank you for any financial aid you offer us in these strange times.
- Since I’m talking about money issues, I am happy to report that we are going to qualify for the Federal government’s wage subsidy program. As a result, I’ve been able to keep our parish secretary on the payroll for at least as long as this program continues. It will also cover 75% of my salary too. The savings to our parishes will be significant. Thank God for small mercies, eh?
- Were you planning to get married in one of our churches this summer? You had better contact me in the St. Joseph’s office (819-689-5232) asap. It looks as if the current prohibition on social gatherings that has forced us to close our doors will probably continue for months into the future. This means that even when we are allowed again to publicly gather, it will be in small groups of less than 10 people. That limitation won’t permit the attendance of bridesmaids and groomsmen, nor any other family members beyond the bride, groom, two witnesses, and the priest. If this is unacceptable, you might want to consider delaying the wedding until the province finally sounds the all-clear once again, and we can safely gather in the Church as we did before this pandemic started.
- Please remember to pray for the repose of the soul of Mr. Clayton Cotnam of St. Joseph’s parish. He has already been buried in the parish cemetery, but there will be a public funeral and celebration of his life once the virus crisis is past.
- We’re almost ready to start live streaming our Masses next Sunday. I’m working at ironing out the kinks and learning how to operate the equipment and software to try and make that happen. I’ve just got one question to ask: How come something setting up such a computer program be so easy fo a 10-year-old can accomplish in a few minutes takes endless hours for a 60+-year-old like me? 😉
- Finally, a note to those who insist on crossing over into Ontario for non-essential reasons. Remember that if you are stopped by the Sureté coming back home with groceries in your vehicle, your name, address and car registration information is taken down and you and your family are obliged to quarantine yourself in your home for 2 weeks straight. If you violate this quarantine, the SQ has announced they will fine you $1000 each time you are found to be off your property. May I suggest then that it would be more prudent to buy your groceries on this side of the river. Conroy’s Grocers in Chapeau and Metro in Fort-Coulonge will both take grocery orders over the phone and deliver them to your door if asked. Why risk bringing more of the virus needlessly over here if you don’t have to? That’s why the Pontiac borders are closed, even from other parts of the province: to keep down the virus level all around us. To date, there are only 5 reported cases of COVID-19 infections in our county. If we all do our part, we might be able to keep it that way.