I find the readings at Mass during this Easter season joyful and life-giving. Aside from the beautiful Gospel readings on Sundays there are other very interesting passages. They are very relevant to those of us who live in the Western World where the Church faces many pressures.
The Acts of the Apostles reminds us that times were difficult also for the first Christians. The early Church faced challenges from within and without. Challenges from within were of hypocrisy (Acts 5: 1–3); murmuring (Acts 6 – 1) and doctrinal questions (Acts 15: 1). The major external challenge was one of persecution (Acts: 4: 1-3; 5: 17–18). The challenges that face us as we follow Christ are both internal and external. Persecution of Christian minorities is all too common today. My thoughts go to the families and friends of 72 Christians killed in Lahore recently as they celebrated Easter. The threat to Christians and Christian places of worship is now a worldwide phenomenon.
In reflecting on the readings of these weeks I also think of the question, “Who will roll away the stone?” posed by the women on their way to the tomb. I find an answer from St. Paul when he reflects on the struggle that is part of human life in Romans 7, telling us, “It is the Lord!”
The stone is rolled away and we are opened up to new possibilities, new life and seeing things radically differently. This is accomplished by God. Our task is to allow it to be done.
The strange thing is that on entering the tomb the women learn that Jesus is risen, but at this stage they don’t see or experience the risen Lord. They must wait awhile. For each of us Jesus may be risen but we may have to wait awhile before we come to experience this as a lived reality.
Patience is an important virtue for men and women who are discerning religious life. Maybe, when discerning our future, we too must be patient until we see and experience where the risen Lord may be leading us.