Thursday, April 12, 2007

Proclaiming Christ Risen from the Dead!

Fr. Mike and I had the great opportunity to be in Fenway Park for the home opener on Tuesday afternoon. After the game, we went to visit with Fr. Mike's Dad, John. John's brother, Neil, has been in the hospital after suffering a massive stroke last week (so please keep him in your prayers), and John had spent the afternoon sitting with and praying with his brother. When we met up with John, he was sharing with Fr. Mike and I story after story about his little brother, and in particular, how strong Neil's faith is and how bold Neil is in proclaiming that faith to others.

In one particular story, John shared about a time when he had breakfast plans with his brother one morning. John arrived at the restaurant only to see Neil on the corner talking to another man. John waited and at the end of the conversation, the two hugged and Neil came over to meet up with his brother. John asked him, "Who was that?" Neil responded, "I have no idea." You see Neil arrived early and went over to the man and asked him how he was doing. The man shared some challenges in his life and Neil asked him directly, "Do you believe in Jesus?" By the end of that brief conversation, that man had accepted Jesus into his life as his personal Lord and Savior, right there on that street corner.

John looked at me with tears hovering just behind his eyelids and said, "Now that is courage."

And that is what true courage looks like. I've been thinking about that story as we make our way through these Easter Scriptures at Mass this week. We have image after image of changed disciples of Jesus suddenly boldly proclaiming Christ to anyone who will listen. Remember, just a few weeks ago we had image after image of these same disciples not understanding what Jesus was teaching them; or running and way and locking themselves into the Upper Room out of fear.

Now, as we heard from Acts yesterday: "Peter said, 'I have neither silver nor gold,but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.'" And, he heals the crippled man.

What changed everything? An encounter with the Risen Lord. As Jesus is changed and transformed and glorified, we too are changed by being in His presence. It is no different than the disciples on the road to Emmaus. After their encounter with the Risen Lord they say, "Were not our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us on the road?"

And so it should be with us. We have encountered the Risen Lord! Jesus is risen from the dead as He promised! And He is calling all of us to the same boldness of life in Him.

Now this doesn't mean we have to go out and heal every crippled person we come across or tackle every man standing on a corner to ask if he has accepted Jesus into his life. It could mean those things, but just as each of us is unique, we will be called in unique ways. We are all called though to live lives that give witness to the fact that the Lord has indeed risen as He promised; and He rises again at every Mass out of simple bread and wine to be alive and active in our midst once again.

Now that's courage!

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