My friends, we continue this week marveling at the Resurrection of Jesus, what it meant for him, what it meant for his first followers and what it means for us. It is important for us to ponder this event in the life of our brother Jesus and somehow make sense of it, as his followers, so as to allow his message to live on in our lives. Otherwise, the Resurrection just becomes a tenant of our faith, something we say “yes” to, but which has little or no effect in our lives.
We as Jesus’ followers really have it easy from the standpoint of having heard about the Resurrection all of our lives and so in some ways, believing in it as we do other tenets of our faith may be no problem because we have believed for so long and perhaps that may be a problem for us too in that it encourages complacency. We criticize Thomas for not believing, but we have to remember that he and the others had no reference point for this marvelous happening—they had never heard of anyone being resurrected, nor did they fully know what that meant. We have to remember from last week, that resurrection wasn’t like being resuscitated—resurrection was something totally different that Jesus had come through! The other 10 apostles believed because they had seen—Thomas hadn’t the gift of sight as of yet, in more ways than one. Jesus’ comforting words have come down through the years to us, his followers—“Blessed are those who have not seen, but yet believed!” We basque in those words, but what do they really mean to us?
So to us the question we asked last week of those first witnesses to the Resurrection; just what did they believe must be addressed. What do we who have not seen, actually believe? We say we believe that Jesus rose from the dead—somehow moved on to the next life that we all believe we will experience one day. So what does that then signal?
First, it’s important to remember and realize that Jesus didn’t just come as someone who performed great wonders for us to marvel at as in a good story. Jesus came to demonstrate a way of life that each of us, as his followers is called to. Jesus’ miracles and wonders were not meant to be a show to astound us—no; they were meant to be first a sign that indeed he is the Messiah, come to save us from ourselves and second that he came to show us how to live lives of service, of care, of responsibility—for ourselves and for all others.
Each year, in the parts of the country and world that move from the cold and barrenness of winter to the new life of spring; we have a wonderful sign and symbol of what the Resurrection should mean and bring forth in our lives—the gifts of the Spirit that allow us to reach out to our world, sharing the good news of a life lived totally out of love, not for himself, but as a servant for others—Jesus, our brother and friend.
Perhaps because of the promise of new life that spring brings, our Church often times confirms young people in their faith at this time of year—asking them to say their mature “yes” to the promises that their parents and godparents have made for them all their lives. Our mature “yeses” made at our confirmations, yeses that must be renewed throughout our lives, cause us hopefully to take the wonders of Jesus’ life and create the same in our lives as his followers. The wonders, the signs were meant mainly to get our attention, not to stop there. Jesus performed signs and wonders not as a show, but out of love for those in his world that he knew were suffering, were being treated unjustly, and were being abused. He said, no, not as long as I am here!” We must do the same! Each of us is important—we can’t leave it to others.
My friend, Fr. Paul Nelson, said it this way: “Our world needs the presence and spirit of each person who has been given life. Confirmation calls us to give again our spirit, our thoughts, our convictions, our dialogue, to study willingly, so that we can help direct the course of good creative, redemptive and saving energy, for the earth, for humanity, for all of creation.”
Our first reading today comes from the Acts of the Apostles and relates how Peter and the others went among the people, no doubt empowered by the Spirit of Jesus to cure people of their afflictions. I think we sometimes feel that we cannot follow in their footsteps because we do not have such powers. And if we think that, then we would be wrong, because we haven’t allowed ourselves to see the larger picture. Healing others comes in many ways—a simple smile, the willingness to truly listen to another when we think we are too busy—taking the time and effort to greet others we pass on the street, helping out with the ways that our church community tries to assist those needing our help in our community and world. We underestimate what our gentle engaging with others can mean to an individual down on their luck or simply lonely.
I visit several people in our area through the Community Care Network sponsored by Winona Health. Sometimes I feel like I don’t do much for them, but this week when visiting one of them, the realization came upon me that this person really enjoys having me here to talk to, to listen to his concerns, to be another human presence.
I know many of you are engaged in like endeavors. Don’t underestimate the goodness of what you do. For those of you at home caring for little ones, listening to them, teaching them to be people who are a credit to our world—don’t ever underestimate the wonders you are performing in what may seem, mundane.
Friends, the Easter Season calls each of us to wonder, to the task of pondering what our lives are all about in the context of our belief in our brother Jesus who gave all so that we each would have life, to the full. And having life, to the full, will mean, sharing it with others. May we each be blessed as we strive to be Easter people!