Opening Our Hearts to Receive the Holy Spirit

Living in the Communion of Divine Love

Jesus is the Vine, We are the Branches

Jesus Christ: Our Cornerstone

Invitation to the Schools of Missionary Discipleship

Jesus’ Mercy Endures Forever

Msgr. Joseph Prior

“The Lord is risen, Alleluia!, Alleluia! He is risen indeed, Alleluia! Alleluia!” The Easter greeting rings in our ears as we hear another encounter between the Risen Lord and His disciples. The scene is in Jerusalem. Cleopas and his companion have just arrived after being with Jesus in Emmaus. The group of disciples are gathered. Jesus appears among them. He invites, explains, and exhorts.

First, Jesus invites them to believe. It is truly Him, risen from the dead. “Why are you troubled?” he asks. They think they are seeing a phantom; they are still in shock and grief over Jesus’ passion and death, and they are struggling with faith. Jesus enters into this situation fully aware and invites them to believe. He offers his hands and side. He says, “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” He also asks for something to eat so they will realize he is not a spirit, but risen from the dead in His body. He invites them to let go of their fears, sorrows, grief, doubts, and to believe.

Second, Jesus explains. He explains to them why he had to embrace suffering and death. He tells them that Moses and all the prophets prepared for His mission. They foretold and laid the groundwork for revealing the Father’s love for humanity is boundless. They prepared for the new covenant through the first covenant; healing now what once had to be regulated by law. In the magnitude of His love, God embraces the human condition – including suffering and death – to heal that which had its origins in human sin. As Jesus explains, He teaches. The teaching continues in the life of the Church beginning with the Apostles and continued to the present day. In the first reading, from Acts of the Apostles, the apostles witness to Jesus’ resurrection and, like Jesus himself, teach from the scriptures about His mission and its saving effects.

Third, Jesus exhorts the disciples to be “witnesses.” It will be their role to proclaim the good news “to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” And they will. As we continue to hear from Acts of the Apostles in the first readings at Mass during the Easter Season, we hear of how that message spread further and further away from Jerusalem until it reaches Rome, the center of the empire. The apostles and disciples witness by living and proclaiming Jesus’ death and resurrection. The profound simplicity of their living witness has incredible results as we hear of numerous people coming to know and believe in Christ Jesus through them.

Jesus doesn’t just invite, explain, and exhort those disciples gathered in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. He continues this through the ages down to this very day, in the very place we gather to celebrate His passion, death, and resurrection in the “breaking of the bread.”

He, once again, comes to us in the busy-ness of our lives. He comes to us in our sorrows and griefs, our doubts and desires, our joys and exuberance. He comes to us in our anxieties and concerns. He comes to us in our suffering and pain. He comes and invites us to believe in Him. To see in His death, our life. To recognize that He takes on our suffering with us and from that suffering will come life. He invites us to deepen our faith, our trust and our confidence in Him who loves us.

He, once again, explains to us that His passion and death were taken on in love, in love for humanity, but also in love for each and every person — for you and for me. We can hear and read the Gospels from this resurrection perspective and come to know, in deeper and more profound ways, the meaning of His passion, death and resurrection and that this is the Way that leads to life.

He, once again, exhorts us to witness. To proclaim His resurrection and to share the life He has won for all peoples of every nation. This role of missionary discipleship happens right here and right now in the midst of our everyday activities, work and relationships. How do we do that? Saint Paul VI once described the simple but profound beginning of evangelization in this way:

Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity with the efforts of all for whatever is noble and good. Let us suppose that, in addition, they radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one. Here we have an initial act of evangelization. (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 21)

The Lord is Risen, alleluia! Alleluia! He is risen indeed, alleluia! Alleluia! In His passion, death and resurrection we come to know, in the words of Saint Paul, that “nothing can separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” (cf. Romans 8:39)

Today, Jesus invites us to strengthen our faith, to grow in our understanding of God’s salvific plan, and to share the “good news” (Gospel).


Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Penndel, and a former professor of Sacred Scripture and rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

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