April 17, 2022 St Ignatius 12:00
It took more than an empty tomb to convince the first disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead and was truly alive. Even after some of these disciples had seen the Lord alive and talked about it, others did not believe. Even at the Lord’s last appearance, according to the gospel of Matthew, some still doubted.
Ask any believer when they first came to believe that Jesus is alive and with us. Ask yourself. People who have been baptized as adults may find it easier to answer than those, like myself, who were baptized as babies.
I guess it was when I was 7 years old and made my first Communion that I realized that Jesus is alive. The Sisters prepared us well and taught us that Jesus loves us so much that he is present in the little white host. I think we were also told not to bite Jesus but receive and swallow the host carefully. That was a long time ago. Now we are told that we need not be afraid to chew the host, because Jesus told us to “take and eat.”
I think it is our experience of receiving Jesus in communion that convinces us that he is alive. It is a faith experience. We welcome Jesus inside us and we talk to him. And that increases our faith. We may also feel very weak and sinful, but Jesus wants to be with us and make us better. He tells us that the people around us are also very dear to him and that he wants us to respect and welcome them as brothers and sisters, united in the same living Lord of life and love.
But as we say “Happy Easter” to one another today, we are reminded that it is not a happy Easter for victims of flooding and tornadoes who have lost their homes. It is not a happy Easter for the people in Myanmar whose villages have been burned away because they did not agree with the government. And it is not a happy Easter for the people of Ukraine who, like Jesus, are being put to death by other people who claim to believe in God—and who even claim to be Christians.
Jesus is still being scourged and mocked and crucified in our world today. Even if Easter today is not “happy” for the many victims of war, it might still be some consolation for them to know that Jesus has suffered with them and for them—and that he is alive and he is with them in this dread hour. Jesus’ hands still show the holes made by the nails of his crucifixion. His side, pierced by a soldier’s lance, pours out on us the water of our baptism and the blood that fills the chalice of salvation.
“This cup that the Father has given me,” Jesus said when he was arrested, “Am I not to drink it?” And as we repeat at Mass: “This is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
As we say today “Alleluia! Jesus is alive!” let’s remember that he is alive and with us in all our joys and sorrows, our successes and our failures. He is alive and with us when we suffer and are tempted to despair. Lord, save us from ourselves! Save us from hatred and persecution. Fill us with love and respect for all God’s children and all of God’s creation. You live and walk among us. Help us come together in promoting life rather than death. You have conquered sin and death. Alleluia! Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, alive with us and full of concern for each one of God’s children, for each one of us called to be alive with the life you alone can give us!
Robert Chiesa, SJ