Mar 22, 2012, 1:15 PM
On the first Easter morning - the bay of the Resurrection - Mary Magdalene went to the other disciples with some momentous news,
"I have seen the Lord"
Mary had just met the risen Lord. It was life-changing experience for her; and a life-changing experience for the other disciples as they met the risen Christ during the days after his resurrection.
Of course, the disciples of Jesus during his earthly ministry met with him virtually every day. They walked with him, talked with him, observed his healing and teaching ministry, and sat at his feet as he spoke to them of God's kingdom. We must assume that this time was life changing for them. However, it is also clear that they did not always understand what he said. It was only after Jesus' death and resurrection that things became clear.
Mary Magdalene proclaimed, "I have seen the Lord". The prophet Isaiah encourages us, "Seek the Lord while he may be found" (Isaiah 55:6). The psalmist does likewise, Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always" (Psalm 105:4). In our own day and age; in our own lives - where do we find the Lord? Where do we see the face of the Lord? The more obvious places would be in the scriptures, during times of prayer, or in creation. God called forth our world, and creation reflects God's nature. The beauty of creation - whether a wide vista or a small flower - can draw forth from us wonder and praise of the Creator. The growing awareness of the presence of God gradually draws us closer to God, and this cannot fail to affect our lives. The more we are aware of God's omnipresence, the more we are bound to be upright, just and loving.
Most significantly, we see the Lord within our brothers and sisters - within our neighbour - within those around us. We are each made in the image of God. There is a spark of life, which is of God, within each one of us. We are challenged to recognise this fact, and respond to it. Just imagine what a place our world could be if we each truly believed this, and acted upon such a belief. There might not have been the global fraud and institutional greed that has caused the financial and economic tsunami that we are all striving to recover from
One great challenge Jesus laid before us during his lifetime is recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 25. We are presented with a scene of the judgement at the end of time. Jesus tells us that those who have mercy on their fellow human being - providing food when they are hungry, drink when they are thirsty and visit one who is in prison or sick - that they will know eternal life. He says, quite clearly, that such compassion and service done for one in need is done for Jesus himself. Jesus fully identifies himself with our humanity. When I have seen a needy neighbour - 'I have seen the Lord".
Of course, we will probably not realise it at the time - when we touch the life of one in need with compassion, we touch the life of the Lord. However, to practise such a consciousness can only help us to grow in the presence of God. We need to pray for the grace to see God in others.
To know God's presence - to see the Lord - must mean that life can never be the same again. To know such an experience will inevitably lead to a longing to know God more - to experience his presence again. God is always present
- it is just that we are invariably not aware of it. Let us seek the presence of the Lord.
To live in God's presence - to seek God's presence in our fellow human beings, and within ourselves - must be life changing. Our God is a God of compassion, mercy and love. That is why God took the form of a man - Jesus
- to live here on earth with us for a while. For us, Jesus suffered pain, humiliation, betrayal and death. However, he rose to life again. The risen Lord offers to empower our lives by the Spirit. We are called to reflect the nature of God in our lives. We are called to allow the spark of life within us
- that is of God - to grow and reach out to those aroud us.
Should we allow God to work in our lives in this way, certainly our lives will change. This change must be noticed by those around us. As we reach out to those around us - in love and compassion - surely their lives must be affected as well. We may not see the change, but we are required to persevere in this mission of love. This mission that started over 2,000 years ago - the time Jesus was physically on earth. After Jesus death he rose to life again. The risen Lord is still with us - ready to give us the precious gift of life that comes from God - ready to give us the peace that only God can give.
Our mission changes lives. Our own lives will change. This can touch the lives of those around us. Just imagine how our world can change from one of darkness, conflict and suffering. The influence can spread from local to national to global. The possibility is infinite. However, it begins with each one of us.
This Easter - the Feast of the Resurrection - let us make a commitment to be able to say, like Mary Magdalene, "I have seen the Lord". The gift of new life from the risen Lord is a precious gift indeed in a world where there can be too much darkness, deceit and death.
I pray that you may know God's gifts of peace and joy this Easter.
A Happy Easter to you and yours.Your friend and Bishop,