The Dominican friar, Blessed Humbert of Romans O.P. once said "First the bow is bent in study, then the arrow is released in preaching..." These are the sermons of fr. Lawrence Lew O.P., a Friar Preacher (Dominican), interspersed with art and some of his photographs.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn 13:34). The last time we would have heard these words in the Liturgy would be on Maundy Thursday in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, just before the Gospel account of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. These words, then, re-enforce what was heard in the Gospel of Maundy Thursday: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13:14). Hence, it is rightly understood that Christ’s commandment that we love one another is borne out in serving one another, in works of social justice.
Therefore, our parish embarked on a charitable project this Lent that sought to serve the needy and poor – not so much to wash their feet as to help provide feet, in the form of prosthetic limbs. We have raised about £3500 for Olivia Giles’ ‘500 Miles’ project through a variety of initiatives. And as Olivia suggested on Friday night when we presented a cheque to her, it is through such acts of generosity and love in a Christian community that we demonstrate that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. For the Lord says: “all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).
But this understanding of love as social justice is not new. It is already found in the Old Testament, and it is rooted in the Jewish prophets. For example, Micah 6:8 says: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” What is different is that the New Testament adds a mystical dimension to this because in serving the marginalized and oppressed it is our poor, naked, hungry God, Jesus Christ himself, whom we serve and love.
However, vital though it is, there is more to Christian love than just social justice. Hence, our Liturgy re-visits these words of Christ, his new commandment to us, in the light of the resurrection. What has changed? Christ has risen from the dead, and so, destroyed death. He has put an end to the hold that sin, evil, and death had over Mankind. He has made “all things new” (Apoc 21:5a), re-creating the heavens and the earth. Because of Christ’s resurrection, “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Apoc 21:4). The disciples of Jesus Christ, who touched and saw and heard the risen Lord, knew all this to be true. Through faith, we also experience the risen Lord and know his Word to be true.
With an Easter faith, then, how is Christian love expressed? What more needs to be done in addition to serving one another and doing justice? Love is expressed through bringing hope to others: hope in the resurrection; hope that comes from faith in the new creation brought about by the risen Jesus; hope in God’s mercies that are ever new.
Therefore, the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles shows us how we’re called to love one another as disciples of Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Love impels the first disciples to travel far and wide, risking the perils of the journey, to preach the Gospel. They could have been content to just keep the faith to themselves, or considered it too risky and imprudent to stand up against the Jewish authorities and the mighty Roman empire. And, as we’ve seen in previous weeks, after the Crucifixion, they were full of fear and confusion. But once the Holy Spirit had descended on them there was no stopping them.
A roaring lion is unlikely to successfully stalk and surprise its prey but lions do roar in the evening to proclaim their territory. So, in comparing the devil to a roaring lion, perhaps St Peter has in mind the devil roaring as he prowls around in the darkness of sin, proclaiming that sinful humanity belongs to him. After all, in St John’s Gospel, Jesus acknowledges the devil to be “the prince of this world” of sin (Jn 12:31). Or perhaps St Peter has in mind the devil roaring with fierce persecutions and difficulties so as to strike fear into our hearts and to shake the faith of men and women. For lions do roar so as to strike fear into the hearts of their prey and to stun them just before they pounce on them. Again, there is a suggestion of this in St Mark’s Gospel, that “Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them” (Mk 4:15) or “when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away” (Mk 4:17).
But into a world darkened by sin, a wilderness in which we are fearful and suffer tribulations, another lion has roared.
For the traditional symbol of today’s saint, the evangelist Mark, is the lion. Because his Gospel begins with “one crying in the wilderness”, like a lion roaring and proclaiming its territory in the desert. This is the roar of the evangelist, of the herald of Christ, of any who would proclaim and preach the Gospel of salvation.
But the good news that St Mark proclaims concerns another lion, Jesus Christ, who is called the Lion of Judah (cf Apoc 5:5). This Lion roars to claim humanity for God. We belong to him, and are marked out as his, saved from sin and the lies of the devil, through baptism. Hence, St Mark’s Gospel opens with the baptism of Christ through whom we too are called God’s beloved sons and daughters, with whom God our Father is well pleased (cf Mk 1:11). And the Spirit descends upon the waters, just as he did at the dawn of creation, for the world has been redeemed by Christ, reclaimed from the devil, and re-created in grace by the Holy Spirit. And as a sign of this, right after Christ calls all to “repent, and believe in the gospel”(Mk 1:15), and after he calls the Twelve apostles, Jesus performs a series of exorcisms, driving out the devil.
For the Lion of Judah is stronger than the prince of this world, infinitely greater than that lion who seeks to devour us. St Mark says: “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mk 3:27). Jesus has done this, binding the devil, conquering sin and death, and plundering his house. Hence, all evils and even death itself has no lasting hold over humanity; we have been set free and our persecutions and sufferings – frightening and terrible though they may be – are only temporary. For Christ is victorious and has risen. So, as St Peter says in our first reading: “[A]fter you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you” (1 Pt 5:10).
Therefore, today, we give thanks to God for St Mark and his Gospel. Through his writings, God, in his grace, has called us to his eternal glory in Christ. So, let the roaring of the lion of St Mark overcome our fears and difficulties, for armed with the Gospel, we can resist the devil, “firm in [our] faith” (cf 1 Pt 5:10), empowered by the Lion of Judah.
It’s been so blustery lately that if you’re withdrawing money from the cash machine you need to be careful to hang on tight to the cash. A few days ago, I saw someone lose his grip and the wind snatched the notes away, and they were blown out of his reach! So, we need to keep a firm hold, particularly on valuable things, and especially in bad weather.
This is what Jesus does to us. He holds on tight so that nothing and “no one is able to snatch” us out of his hands. Because we are so precious to him, each and every single one of us. For every human being – all life – is created by God. So, he is our Father and his love sustains all that is. And we have been given to the Son, meaning that we belong to Christ. “We are his people and the sheep of his pasture” as we said in our psalm response. And because we’re his Christ “the Good Shepherd… laid down his life for his sheep and willingly died [for us] his flock” (cf Communion antiphon). He does this so that we are redeemed from sin and death, so that we can have eternal life, so that we can be for ever united to him in love. That’s what we call ‘heaven‘ – being one with God in perfect love.
So, we’re hard won, and bought at a great price – through Christ’s own suffering and death – and Jesus did this for us because he loves us. Therefore, because you and I are loved into being and sustained in love by the Father, and loved into salvation and eternal life by the Son, and united to God through the love of the Spirit, we are precious. You and I, and every human person is of infinite value to God, created to share in his divine dignity. And we, who have been baptised, have been elevated by grace to share in divine Sonship so that we’re not just sheep but are one with the Lamb, one with our Lord Jesus Christ on his Father’s throne.
Hence, because we’re so precious to Jesus, he hangs on to us, and he will not let anyone or anything snatch us away from him. As St Paul said: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? […] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35. 37-39).
Rather, in all our trials and pain, Christ is hanging on to us. For he keeps a firm hold, particularly on us who are precious, and especially in stormy, windy, turbulent conditions. When we are suffering and sick and stressed; when we are demoralized, depressed and doubtful, Jesus is holding on to us very tight. So, in today’s Gospel he assures us that he knows us, his beloved flock. He knows how we suffer and what we endure in this life. But he wants us to know, too, that he loves us, especially in difficult times, and that he will never let us be snatched away by evil.
The Resurrection is a new beginning, and so, today’s Gospel is like a flashback. We’re back at the beginning by the sea of Tiberias in Galilee and Simon Peter, James, John, and others are there fishing; just as it was when Jesus first called them to follow him. And they did, and what a journey it had been. But the disciples did not follow Jesus all the way to the Cross; they fled, except for John and the women. And so, with the shame of having failed their friend, perhaps it seemed to the disciples that they should just return to their former way of life; back to the beginning when they were simple fishermen; back to a time before Jesus.
But once we’ve encountered God, there is no turning back. Once we’ve been chosen and claimed by Jesus as his own, called his friends, there is no renunciation of that. For as St Paul put it: “we may be unfaithful but God is always faithful, for he cannot disown his own self” (2 Tim 2:3). And so, if we’ve failed or gone astray or fled in fear, there is always Christ’s forgiveness which releases us from guilt and embarrassment; always a new beginning to re-affirm our love for Christ and to choose to follow him again; always a resurrection from the brokenness and deadliness of our former choices if we turn again to the Lord.
It’s not accidental that the one disciple who recognizes Jesus is St John, who had remained under the Cross, and heard the Lord say: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). So, now, when the disciples, not knowing what they do, return to their old occupation and fail to catch a single fish, Jesus’ forgiveness comes in the form of a great catch of fish, and John at once recognizes it for what it is. And he recognizes, too, who is the source of such divine mercy and forgiveness. This is an experience of new life and the resurrection. So, just as in the beginning, when Jesus chose them as his own and called them to be “fishers of Men” (cf Lk 5:1-12), so, now, “just as day was breaking” (Jn 21:4), there is a new beginning. Jesus renews his choice and his call, and the sign of this renewal and forgiveness is a miraculous catch of one hundred and fifty-three fish, as St John realizes.
There has been much speculation over the precision of this number, and many have sought to give it an esoteric symbolic meaning. But it may well just be that there was a catch of one hundred and fifty-three “large fish” (Jn 21:11), and as any fisherman knows, especially if you make a living from them, every single fish counts. The fact that the evangelist was able to be so specific about the number of fish may serve as a kind of proof for what he says at the end of this chapter: “This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things” (Jn 21:24). He is an eye-witness; he was there, and he can testify to just how many fish they’d caught.
However, there is probably more to it than just that.
Today we’re faced with one of the most challenging responses of the apostles: they rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name” (Acts 5:41). Can we say the same? Would we rejoice to suffer insults, shame, humiliation etc for the sake of Jesus? Or do we try our best to avoid even being known as Christians, unwilling to suffer the ridicule and awkward questions that this could bring down upon us? But, we know that so many of our brothers and sisters around the world do indeed suffer terribly for bearing the name of Christ – in Pakistan, in Egypt, in Iraq and Syria, and in Nigeria, China, and Libya. Yet, in a quiet humble way, it seems that they bear their suffering with profound faith; with joyful hope in the vindication that comes through Christ’s resurrection.
But why is there such persecution, such antagonism between the world and the Christian disciple? Perhaps the best reflection on this can be found in Chesterton’s biography of St Thomas Aquinas. Chesterton said, “The saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr; he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same element in every age. Yet each generation seeks its saint by instinct; and he is not what the people want, but rather what the people need”.
What our world needs is truth, but not an absolute truth that controls and that is used as a weapon; not an excuse for fundamentalist violence. Rather, the Truth we Christians believe in is a person, the God-Man who suffered and died for us. The truth is that we are loved, which means that Someone was willing to die for us, chose to sacrifice himself for our good and eternal happiness, so that we might live. The question, then, is, are we “worthy” of suffering and dying with Christ, of co-operating with him in the healing of our world, of being what the people need? This worthiness to mount the Cross with Christ and to proclaim the truth doesn’t come from a perceived superiority to others. Not at all. On the contrary, it can only come from humility; from emptying ourselves of our pride and need for worldly affirmation and praise; from being open to God’s grace so that we can share the mind of Christ who was “humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross” (cf Phil 2:5-8).
And if we are faithful to Christ in this way, and we bear witness to his sacrificial love, suffering with him for the love of our peers and contemporaries, then we can expect to be dishonoured and persecuted as Christ was. For “a servant is not greater than the Master” (John 15:20b). But, if so, then we can also be confident that we shall share in his glory. For Jesus promises: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you…Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:11f).
St Luke’s sequel to his Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles, is told with great momentum and energy. Because the main protagonist, although often invisible, is the Holy Spirit who inspires the first Christians. From the very beginning until today, it is the Spirit who directs the apostolic activities of the Church, and no physical obstacle or material barrier can constrain or imprison the Gospel and our faith. This is the witness that the apostles gave, and we still see this Spirit-filled hope and faith in our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world; in those Christians, too, who are in prison.
fr Timothy Radcliffe OP tells, for example, of the lay Dominican fraternity in a prison in Massachusetts, USA who are “preachers of hope” and joy in “a dark place”. And Cardinal Onaiyekan recounts a visit to a dismal and dirty prison in Nigeria where he suddenly heard singing, and in the gloom he saw the prisoners all had rosaries around their necks. “How come you are all Christians in here, he asked, a little taken aback, since Nigeria is fairly evenly divided between Christians and Muslims? Many of us were Muslims, he was told, but when we saw the Christians singing – even in a place like this – we asked for the secret of their joy and discovered how Jesus can bring peace out of even the deepest places of pain and suffering”. This is surely an experience of the resurrection, of Easter joy and hope, of new life coming from the tomb. So, those who are imprisoned, condemned by the world to sit in darkness, are nevertheless made truly free. Because, following the promptings of grace, of God’s angel, as it were, they believe in Christ, and so, “should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16b).
But although God’s Spirit and his Gospel is not constrained by physical bars and jails, it can be blocked by our human freedom, by spiritual barriers, so to speak. What I mean is that we can choose to refuse God’s grace, to decide not to believe. This is an obstinacy of the will and intellect that prefers, as the Gospel says, sin and “darkness rather than the light” (Jn 3:19).
But God never fails to knock at the door of our heart, sending countless actual graces, opportunities to repent, to be converted, to grow in understanding and love of his Word. His angel stands before the prisons we build for ourselves and says: “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life”. God’s Spirit comes to set us free by his grace, beckons us to faith in Christ, to hope in his mercy, and to rise from the darkness to live a new life in the light of the Risen Lord.
The Vietnamese Cardinal Van Thuan who was imprisoned for thirteen years once said, “You may tremble with fear, you may stumble and fall, you might meet with difficulties, misunderstandings, criticisms, disgrace, perhaps even a death sentence. But why forget the Gospel? Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered everything. If you continue to follow him, you will also have your Easter”. Thus, every day, when God renews his graces to us and his angel calls us forward into the light, let us freely choose each time to rise, and to follow him. By co-operating with God’s grace, we enjoy new life in Christ the Living One.
Faith is never something just personal and private. It is always communal and relational, and so, we see today that faith in the resurrection requires that we trust the eyewitness account of another; believe in the testimony of other people. But it seems that this might involve believing the sort of people one might not usually trust or consider reliable.
For as the Holy Father reminded us recently, “according to the Jewish Law of the time [of Christ], women… were not considered reliable, credible witnesses”. Yet Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. And she wasn’t just any woman, but one who had been in the grip of demons – addicted, lost, and desperate – and so, probably doubly-excluded. And what about the two disciples in the countryside? Their testimony was admitted by the Law. But these were two men who were fleeing in despair, overcome by what they’d thought was the defeat and failure of Jesus. One might say they were cowards who’d abandoned the rest of the group in Jerusalem. But Jesus appeared to them too. Jesus chose these people – the disregarded, the weak, and the marginalized; those whom one might well dismiss, distrust, and begrudge – as the first eyewitnesses to God’s greatest work.
Why? Because faith in God is founded on faith in other people, on a relationship of truth and friendship between people. So, when our human relationships breakdown and become dysfunctional, faith in God becomes very difficult, or risks becoming completely individualistic, a projection of mere self-belief. But faith, and especially faith in the resurrection, requires that we believe others, trust in a community of witnesses. And so, the risen Lord reconciles and heals the brokenness of our human relationships by first appearing to those who are in some way excluded and unwanted. Thus, it becomes necessary, if we’re to have faith in the resurrection and participate in its grace, to trust, value and listen to every human person, beginning with those who are considered least in our world.
However, sometimes our faith in others is lost because of the wounds inflicted on us by some others, including members of our community, our Church. We can no longer trust such people, and perhaps the other disciples felt this way about the two who had left them to flee to Emmaus. But, again and again this week, when Jesus appears, he tells his disciples to see and to touch his wounds. This requires great trust, of course, but moreover, to ask the very people who had in some way caused those wounds to do this requires mercy and forgiveness. And thus, the risen Lord heals and transforms our fractured human relationships by first forgiving us, teaching us to be merciful, to avoid hardness of heart, and, so, to forgive others as we have been forgiven. In this way, we come to experience the peace of the resurrection.
Forgiveness, mercy, and faith in humanity, which includes all in God’s risen life, is the new-ness of the resurrection that we are invited to believe in. So, our resurrection faith is never merely private and personal but is always communal and relational because it elicits my trusting another, forgiving others, and loving my brothers and sisters; faith in Christ’s resurrection transforms me and transforms our world through a new belief in people, through friendship. Isn’t this what the Lord desires when he says to us: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation”? (Mk 16:15)
Today’s Gospel raised fascinating theological questions for the Fathers of the Church and for medieval theologians concerning whether the risen Jesus really ate, i.e., digested and derived nutrition from the broiled fish. After all, Christ’s resurrected body does not really need nutrition since it is immortal, so why would he need to eat?
These are important and, to my mind, necessary theological questions but I would focus on what I think is most significant about today’s Resurrection appearance. Jesus is not just trying to convince his disciples that he’s not a ghost – he’s already asked them to touch him. Rather, he’s expressing something more profound by eating fish.
Firstly, let’s look at what the risen Lord eats. As true God, Life itself, Jesus doesn’t need to eat immortality-conferring ambrosia like the Greek and Roman false gods. So, he doesn’t eat any extraordinary heavenly food. Instead (and strikingly), as true Man, albeit raised from the dead and glorified, Jesus eats ordinary human food – fish – as a sign of his humanity. For it is not as though the risen Jesus is now just divine and no longer human, as some have been tempted to think. Rather, Jesus’ crucified humanity is for ever united in glory to his divinity. So, the Lord Jesus will always bear the marks of the Cross on his risen body, and he is for ever both divine and human. This is important because it is through Christ’s eternal union with our humanity that Man can forevermore share in his resurrection, and, so, come to share in his divine glory too.
Secondly, let’s look at what eating actually signifies. Human beings don’t just feed to derive nutrition and survive – we also dine. This means that we enjoy conviviality, and meals are socially symbolic events. As the anthropologist Margaret Visser says in her brilliant book, ‘The Rituals of Dinner’, “feasts the world over are given as celebrations of relationship among the diners”. And this, essentially, is what Christ is doing here. He’s eating, feasting, even, with his disciples. The element of festivity and feasting is evident precisely in that Jesus eats when he doesn’t need to, just as we might feast on chocolates and treats. This, as Josef Pieper says, points to “existential richness”. It hints at the existential richness of the risen life, and reminds us of the largesse of God when Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed the multitudes. In Luke’s Resurrection accounts, Jesus takes up both bread (at Emmaus) and fish again, to remind us that God’s goodness, plenty, and existential richness are realized eternally in the Resurrection.
Finally, as we recall the multiplication of fish and bread, we look to the Eucharist whereby God feeds his people, and enters into a covenant, a familial relationship of love, with you and me. Through this Eucharistic feast, God celebrates and renews his relationship with us, as true God and true Man who unites himself to us for ever in a bond of love. And in this feast we also celebrate the relationship among us, the diners, who are united as organs and cells of the one risen Body of Christ; a communion of saints who are destined to share in his eternal glory.
We, gathered here for the Eucharist, are witnesses to this promise. So, as the psalmist says: “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8).
The journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus is one we’re all making, and each of us is at a different stage of the journey. It’s a walk from despair, doubt and despondency to a life-giving faith, resurrected hope, and evangelical joy. And at every point along this journey, whether we are lost in sadness and confusion or inflamed with love for the Word of God, Jesus is with us. The difference is whether we recognize him or not. For today’s Gospel reminds us that Christ, the Risen One, is in fact always with us, walking alongside us even when we do not recognize him; he is the Stranger in our midst who calls us his friends. He is present and stays with us, especially in the evening of our days. When the darkness encroaches, and the cold and lonely night is drawing in, as the warm light of faith seems to recede, and we feel too weary to carry on the journey, Jesus remains with us when we just say to him: “Stay with us” (Lk 24:29). Yes, stay with us, Lord!
But if we pray like this, then we must also stay with him, inviting him into our lives, opening up our hearts and minds to be taught and nourished by him. For the journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus is also the journey from the disciples’ own limited notions of how Christ was to redeem Israel, from their false hopes and illusory projections of who Jesus is, to the truth and full reality of Jesus Christ – the truth and reality of the Risen Lord who reveals himself to us, who is really present and makes himself known in his Body, his holy Church, through her Scriptures and her sacraments. Alive and active in his Church for all time, Christ remains with Mankind in order to continue to teach and nourish us, opening to us the Scriptures, and feeding us with his own Body and Blood, so that we can truly know and experience God’s goodness and love, and walk with him on the road to salvation.
So, if we stay with Christ in this house, in his holy Church, we gradually grow in love and understanding of God’s Word and of what Jesus has done for us. Our hearts burn within us, inflamed with the love that is God’s Holy Spirit. But this same Spirit also comes to purify us, refining our personal experiences and expectations, stretching our ways of thinking so that we mature in faith and come to share the mind of Christ; so that we become his friends. This conversion is the journey of a lifetime, an Emmaus journey we need to make again and again, so that we are more authentically and completely converted to Christ.
Thus we are raised from old and deadening ways of thinking and behaving to a new risen life with the Living One. Only then, being alive in the Spirit, can we do as those disciples did. We become missionaries and evangelizers, rushing back to Jerusalem, into the city and world from which we’d come, to witness joyfully to the Risen Lord in both what we say and do.
Redemption is allowing ourselves to be found by God. And he can only find us if we’re not hiding from him. Like the women who ran out of the tomb, we too, have to leave the cold dark tomb of doubt, of shame because of sin, of falsehood – all these entomb us and hide us from God. But when the women run out of the tomb, the risen Lord comes to meet them. With faith in our hearts and letting go of our false selves – the facades we build about our lives; letting go of our shame, and our rationalist restrictions, God can find us. God comes in search of us; the Living One comes to meet us.
But notice that although the women are filled with joy and believed the angel’s words, they are also fearful. Faith can be like this: we’re filled with joy, but the questions and fears do not cease. Each year at this time all manner of sceptical theories about the Resurrection of Christ are bandied about. And, as we heard in today’s Gospel, this is nothing new. From the beginning there were rumours that the Resurrection was a hoax, a concoction of the disciples of Jesus, and people still say such things. And perhaps we feel slightly swayed and uncertain ourselves when we’re questioned? We are full of Easter joy, we have faith, but we are a little afraid: what if it’s not true? What does faith in the resurrection demand of me?
Each of these claims against the truth of the Resurrection can be countered rationally and historically. However, what calms the women’s fear is an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. He says to them: “Do not be afraid” and he says the same to us. This is a call to deepen our trust in him, to experience his divine mercy and forgiveness, to be transformed by his grace, and raised from death to new life, from doubt to faith. And we encounter Jesus – we meet him and he comes to us – in the Mass. Is it not here that we experience his boundless love and mercy? Hence, in the Gospel the women take hold of Jesus’ feet and worship him. We, too, are invited to not be afraid but to take hold of the Lord who gives himself to us in the Eucharist, and to worship him. Here, as we come to the Mass in faith and open our hearts and lives to God, we allow ourselves to be found. He, the Risen Lord, comes to us and finds us as we truly are – sins, fears, and all – and he loves us and redeems us.
Finally, a word about ‘Galilee’. This is the place of origin, of where the apostles had been called from their work and families. The risen Lord tells the women that he will meet the apostles there, which means that Christ comes to find us and meet us not only in the Mass but also in our daily lives as we get on with our work and our ordinary tasks. He is present there, too, in acts of mercy, in forgiveness for one another – relatives, colleagues, friends – and, above all, present in love. For all these works of God’s grace raise us from death to new life. They are a participation in the life of the resurrection. So, when the opportunity arises to love, to be merciful, or to forgive let us not be afraid, and take hold of the risen Lord.
Father Leon Dehon, founder of the Priestly Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Congregatio Sacerdotorum a Sacro Corde Iesu) also known as the Dehonians, celebrating Holy Mass. According to former privilege granted to the missionaries in China,