Have you seen the Lord?

Have you seen the Lord?

If someone were to ask you that, right now, what would you say?  Would you be able to say that you know what Christ’s voice sounds like? Would you be able to talk about that moment, I mean the moment, where you first experienced beyond a shadow of a doubt God’s love for you?  Could you say where and when it was? Saint Peter challenges us to be prepared to answer such questions,  always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope ~ 1 Peter 3:15.

I think if we are honest, this is one of the hardest things to do… Why is that?  I think it’s because we are like Mary Magdalen. In our Gospel this Easter Morning, Mary came while it was still dark. Saint Gregory the Great, one of our early Church Fathers, wrote that Mary came in the dark, because she was filled with despair and had lost hope because of Jesus’ death.  Mary was lost, confused, filled with despair and experiencing the dark night of grief. Many of us come to Mass this Easter Morning but we are not filled with hope.  Rather, we are filled with everything else. We are filled with our hurts, our loneliness, our anger, and our sufferings… and we wonder where is God? We know all too well what Mary Magdalen is going through this morning… We are just like her…

One priest who writes books about evangelizing parishes said that he “honestly believes that this is the reason why so many lips remain silent in our churches on Sunday morning.” This is why Saint Peter’s challenge is so hard, because, “too many literally have nothing to sing about… Only the evangelized can evangelize… Only those who have received the Good News as Good News can proclaim it to others.  Good News is never a burden to share with others – indeed, it is the most natural thing in the world.”

Why is this?  Why do so many seem to be without any experiences of Christ to talk about?  Because at some point we need to actually “See the Lord in our lives.” This is what happens for Mary Magdalen.  Immediately after our scene today, after Peter and John leave the empty tomb, Jesus appears before Mary.  She is unable to see Him.  Then he says here name and she recognizes Jesus’ voice.  The first thing she does is she goes and tells the apostles, “I have seen the Lord.”

Just like Mary, we can be so focused on what is wrong, so focused on our hurts that we cannot even see Christ. At some point we need to go from hearing about Christ, to having experiences of Christ.  In order to help you get there…

I could tell you that Jesus came to live this earthly life so that you would be able to develop an intimate friendship with God…

I could tell you, that Christ looks at us with the same eyes of mercy and forgiveness that he used to look at Peter after he denied Jesus for the third time…

I could tell you, that Jesus died on the cross for you… Not just for the world… but for you… And that if only you could stand in front of Him at His crucifixion he would tell you the same thing —   that he has done this for you. 

I could tell you that Jesus calls you by name, just as he called Mary Magdalen, to give you hope and life…

I could tell you all of these things, but for the most part it doesn’t matter.  No matter what anyone says, it won’t be believed in our hearts until we have experienced these things in our own lives. And friends, that is what my prayer is for all of you this Easter Sunday.  I pray that everyone here will have a powerful encounter with Jesus that you will know and believe of Christ’s love, of his friendship, of his mercy and forgiveness, and how much you matter to Him.  I want you to know this, but Christ wants you to know it.

And friends, not only do I want this for you. But Christ wants it for you.  Christ wants you to have an Easter Faith. One who has both seen the Lord and shares the Lord with others

So, do the question to pray about today and throughout this week, Do you have an Easter Faith?  Have you seen Jesus?  And what are you doing about it? 

In Christ’s Love and Friendship,

Fr. Stephen

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