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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR APRIL 9 | Encountering the resurrected Jesus brings forth conversion

Throughout the Easter season, we hear of Jesus meeting people where they are, which He does for us

Our time of preparation and purification is coming to an end. We are preparing to celebrate Easter Sunday and the entire Easter season. During this season, we feast on the many stories about Jesus’ encounters after He was raised from the dead. We get a glimpse into the minds and hearts of those who were stunned by His appearance and those whose faith was reawakened after their disillusionment. We get a glimpse of those who had to somehow deal with their abandonment or betrayal of Jesus. We watch those different people grapple with their own wonderment about whether Jesus could love them after what they had done. And each and every one of them who came to be with Him came to understand that their actions did not end His relationship with them. They came to understand that His love was stronger than anything they could say or do. Are we prepared to experience that same depth of love that Jesus has for us? During this Easter season, are we willing to bring to Jesus our betrayals of Him, our abandonment of His way of life and maybe even the turning of our backs on Him?

The encounters that Jesus had with His apostles and disciples after the resurrection caused some change in their lives. In their disillusionment, many of them had begun to go back to their old villages, occupations and ways of life. It would be a shame if we go through all this Lenten preparation and the grand celebration of Easter, and then simply go back to the way things were, our old way of life. What will conversion and a deeper walk with Jesus look like in our personal lives and our relationships with others?

My hope is that each of us has been awakened or shaken back into life. Many of us have fallen asleep, or become numb in the ordinary patterns of our lives. We have become used to the world being a mess, conversations becoming arguments and always trying to prove ourselves right and somebody else wrong. We assume that caring for the poor, the imprisoned and the stranger is somebody else’s business and not ours. With our new awareness and Easter grace, we have the opportunity to see with new eyes, and to love with new hearts. If the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides in each of our own minds and hearts, shouldn’t that make a difference in how we live?

Jesus met each person as He found them. Some of them were roaming around in a cemetery, some were out in fishing boats, some were sadly walking down the road back home and some locked themselves in a room out of fear. He came to each and every one of them as they are, as He does to us. He offers us whatever we need to believe, just as He did to Thomas and the other apostles. He breaks bread with us, tells us the old familiar stories and gives us food for the journey. He calls us by name, and we recognize His voice. He doesn’t hold the sins of the past against us, but asks us if we love Him.

I wish you all a blessed Easter, and pray that as an archdiocese, parish communities, families and individuals, we will be open to wherever the resurrected Christ leads us. May the prophets come forward to prophesy, may the healers come forward to heal, may the caretakers come forward to take care of those who are in need and may the leaders come forward to lead us truly into the kingdom of God here on earth, as it is in heaven. May we find unity where there has been division, and may we find love where there has been hatred. May we find generosity where there has been self-centeredness, and may we find understanding where there was judgment.

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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