When was the last time you saw or experienced the Risen Lord?
The Third Sunday of Easter
Acts: 3: 13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2: 1-5; Luke 24: 35-48
When was the last time you or I saw Jesus? When was the last time we saw one of our beloved deceased friends or family? The idea of rising from the dead is one of the most controversial elements of the Christian faith. Even the disciples were amazed, shocked, and frightened by the appearance of the risen Lord and thought he was a ghost. The appearances of Jesus to the disciples also caused them not to recognize them until he spoke or gestured to them with things they had heard and seen when he was alive. So, what are we to make of the resurrection?
It is one of the saddest things I must encounter when someone loses a loved one so dear to them and they do not believe in a form of the afterlife. The pain of physical loss only becomes more devastating to think that once their loved one is cremated or laid to rest in the ground that is it.
The belief of the risen Lord and experiencing the resurrected Lord is not hard to experience if we have had our lives changed by the Spirit. Those of us who entered recovery and live a life of sobriety know the pain of death caused by the isolation of addiction and how it robs us of people, family, ourselves and ultimately our Divine. Yet if we reach out in faith to the Lord as I did 28 years ago then we know that the Lord is real. I came to believe in a power greater than myself who could restore me to sanity on the night of my last drink. I am man of faith who loved others but did not love myself enough to stop drinking had to reach out to the risen Lord and ask for the strength to recover or die. When I awoke from that sleep that last night, I was given the gift of recovery and a new lease on life. The power of the risen Lord within me had become alive and a day at a time I and the Lord have walked the road of recovery into new life.
When we have a life altering experience the death of a loved one, recovery, a birth of a child, or something that changes our life it is up to us to accept the Lord in our life. We can choose to accept the Lord and the life-giving grace that is offered, or we can choose to walk away and say the Lord is not real. It is only those who have a foundation in faith can embrace the Lord at those moments when our faith is tested, or we are tempted to say we did it all ourselves. The faith we have and are called to be for others can help them to say yes when the world says no. We are called as people of faith whose lives have been changed to be the catalyst of change in our world. The kingdom which Jesus speaks of being within us is not just to remain dormant no it is to be used for the sake of others. I share my story of recovery as I approach my 28th anniversary on April 21st to hopefully help someone maybe you who are reading this reflection.
Our readings remind us that Jesus as the Messiah for all people not just a select few was deemed to be from all times. Yet if we deny the existence of the Divine and the resurrected life of healing and hope in us, we will live miserable lives filled with hopelessness always looking outside of our self for meaning, be it addictions, relationships, material things or images of illusions. It is only when we allow the Spirit to knock on our hearts door and open it for the Lord that our lives change. The turmoil we are in right now in our country is due to a lack of love and tolerance for each other. The lack of acceptance and the actions of hate are truly not of the Lord but of the darkness which Jesus came to dispel.
Whether ae are a people of the light or darkness is up to you and me. If there is one thing, I came to know in my recovery is that the Lord will never take the drink out of my hand or hide the bottle or half fill it with water. No, The Lord will wait until I was ready to put that drink down and accept him as the meaning of my life not an idol called addiction. They say the nicest people we will ever meet are people in recovery to all my brothers and sisters in any recovery program I say peace and healing to you and please continue to pray and send positive energy to me as I send to you.
Let us pray for our faith communities that we will be communities of light amid darkness caused by racism, hate, prejudice, unacceptance and fear and ignorance. We are the people of light and truth and that is universal love for all. May we take up the mantle of universal love and carry it proudly so all can see and know that they are loved not only by the Lord but by you and me.