Faith in Uncertainty
For most of us it is not easy to believe in the resurrection of Jesus: most of us are not in the premier league of beloved disciples: most of the time utter joy and bliss and absolute faith in the God who loves us eternally and unconditionally aren’t obvious to us. As Christians we see acts of faith around us, we receive compassion and support, we pray together for the people we love; but we also witness lack of faith, resentment or even hatred towards Christians, simply because of what we believe and because we are members of a community of shared beliefs. The Fifty Days of Easter are a strange period because, unlike Christmas, these days are primarily our festival, and these days of joy in the Risen Lord are not shared by others. Not only that, but we receive our faith as a gift from God, a faith which our Gospel for today (in John’s account) consists of people rushing to the tomb, finding it empty, and believing.
Like the disciples, we are asked to react to the emptiness of the tomb, and to make a decision about our faith, a decision we profess every year by renewing our Baptismal Promises. The emptiness of the tomb is what triggers the disciples’ longing for Jesus, and so, in a few brief moments, there he is among them, when they gather together in the upper room to remember him. That is more or less what happens at every celebration of Mass – by remembering who Jesus is and how important his love is in our lives, there he is among us, his flesh and blood in the Eucharist that we receive, and through which we become united with him.
For each one of us, as members of a Jesuit church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Lady, it is good to be reminded of St Ignatius’ inspirational meditation during times of prayer about the Resurrection. It meant a great deal to St Ignatius that Jesus must first have appeared to his Blessed mother, before any of his other appearances.
Let us take the opportunity this Eastertide to contemplate that moment in our own prayer. I invite you to spend some time in prayer, taking a few minutes for each point to picture the scene in your mind and ponder its significance:
First: “after descending to Hell to release souls of the just from there, returning to the sepulchre and rising again, Jesus appeared in body and soul to his Blessed Mother.”
Second: “Imagine the place – see the arrangement of the Holy Sepulchre; also, the place or house where Our Lady was, including its various parts, such as a room, an oratory and the like.”
Third: “Ask for the grace to be glad and to rejoice intensely because of the great glory and joy of Christ our Lord.”
Fourth: See Jesus and Mary; listen to what they say to each other; see what they do. Each time, reflect a little about myself.
Fifth: “Consider how the divinity of Christ is so miraculously manifest in this holy Resurrection, through its true and most holy effects.”
Sixth: “Consider Christ as consoler, and how this is compared to how friends console one another.”
End: “Speak with Mary, or with Jesus, as you feel moved, and end with the Our Father.”
As this is the Farm st church Easter Newsletter, I take the opportunity to thank all our volunteers who help us in so many ways through the year, and without whom we would be greatly diminished. I also thank the priests on the clergy team, as well as Deacon Alphonse, for your significant contribution to the ministry here, as well as the members of the Jesuit Community who help us in many ways during the year. As I approach the sixth year of my time as parish priest and now in the twenty-fifth year of priesthood I rejoice in the kindness of so many for whom Farm Street Church is their spiritual home. May the joy of the Risen Lord be with all who come here for peace, inspiration and healing. Our faith in the resurrection of Jesus restores our love in God. Let us trust him enough to be able to love as he loves, and to forgive as he forgives.
Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ