Be Resurrection Light

 

Embracing the Easter Mystery, we joyfully share with you the following reflection of Sr. Roxanne Schares SSND on Being Resurrection Light.

christprojektFor many the death of Jesus was a shocking and distressing end to hope, to the new light that they had experienced in their encounters with the Incarnate One. Out of fear, some disciples hid; others got on the road out of town; a few women went early in the morning to grieve at the tomb. All seemed lost in some kind of confusion, disbelief, grief, and shame.

Yet in this state of being lost, light broke through in new and deeper encounters. The grieving and the yearning for understanding provided an opening for Resurrection light for Mary Magdalene, the Emmaus travelers, Peter and the Beloved Disciple, and Thomas and the apostles. The Risen Christ sought them out and met them where they were, whether it was in the garden, on the road, in the locked room, or at the seashore.

The Risen One spoke to them—to their wounded hearts and frightened, disbelieving spirits; offered understanding and peace; and breathed upon them his Spirit, sending them forth.

In these encounters, incredible things began to happen. Hearts burned within, faith was restored, the power of the Spirit came upon them, transforming them into witnesses of God’s reign of love, right where they were and to the ends of the earth.[1] The post-resurrection encounters with the Risen One and the gift of the Spirit reveal how the resurrection unleashed new energy and light, and an extraordinary, new way of being. A new way of living began to unfold.

For a moment, I want to focus on one particular encounter, that of the Risen Jesus with Simon Peter after breakfast at the seashore,[2] what we might call a dialogue of love. Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me?” and three times Peter responded, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Why three times? As many suggest, it is likely that the Risen Jesus is offering mercy and healing for the three-time denial at that other charcoal fire under the cover of darkness just days before.

This was a dialogue of love that brought healing and reconciliation. Jesus did not say: “What have you done?” Rather, he put the question: “Do you love me?” because he knew Peter’s weakness. The only true response for Peter is: “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” Our weaknesses and our love are known, and in the acceptance of this light of knowing, there is healing.

Easter 22This dialogue might also be considered a call of the Risen One to Peter into a trinitarian fulfillment of love and communion. While there is the repetition of words, love does not repeat itself. Love contemplates. To ask three times or several times to the one we love: “Do you love me?” is not so much a repetition, as a verification, a means of confirming a loving relationship. The dialogue of love draws one into contemplation, making the relationship of love more enduring, more expansive, and more inclusive.

In this dialogue, the Risen Jesus did three things. He confirmed Peter in his love; he bid him to tend the sheep, which is to extend the love to the wider community. Then Risen Jesus called Peter to follow and share the mission that would bring him to experience the paschal mystery.

Such an encounter enables us to experience Resurrection light as transformative—healing and reconciling, deepening love and communion, and missioning that calls for an embrace of the paschal mystery in our lives.

Like creation, the incarnation and the death and resurrection of Jesus are not past events but rather events that continue to unfold and shape our lives and the life of the universe. The Risen One shares new life through the Spirit and sends us forth in the power of the Spirit to proclaim the Good News and be witnesses of this new life of communion in God’s Reign that is extended to all peoples and nations—to the ends of the Earth.[3]

The light and power of the Spirit unleashed through the self-emptying love of Jesus and his resurrection continues to permeate our universe. As expressed by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, “The Spirit of God has filled the universe with possibilities and therefore, from the very heart of things, something new can always emerge…”[4] The Spirit constantly enkindles, sets on fire, and brings forth new light and more abundant life.

 

 


[1] Cf. Acts of the Apostles 1:8; 2:1-4.

[2] John 21:15-19

[3] Cf. Acts 1:8.

[4] Laudato Si’, 80.

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