Where are we looking for Jesus? Have we found Jesus?
Early in the morning Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James went to the tomb looking for Jesus. But Jesus was not there. The Angels appeared to them and told them that they were looking in the wrong place. They were looking for Jesus amongst the dead, but Jesus can only be found amongst the living. Have we found Jesus? Have we accepted Jesus into our lives. If we haven’t found Jesus it just might be that we are looking in the wrong place. We can only find Jesus amongst the living.
In the past few months people have declared the death of the Catholic Church. With the sexual abuse scandals, the cover ups, the treatment of the divorced, homosexuals, the Church has been proclaimed dead; it is deemed lifeless. This weeks burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is seen as a fitting epitaph not only for France the first daughter of the Church but for the Catholicism as a whole.
Like the Angels who questioned the holy women, people question us, why are we looking for Jesus here of all places. It is true, it makes no sense to look for Jesus in a place where there is no life, but that misses the point for those of us who believe, that misses the point for those of us who are baptized, it misses the point for the 36 members of this congregation who will be baptized into our Church in just a few moments. We are not looking for Jesus outside of ourselves, we are looking for Jesus within ourselves. To be Church means that we are called to that place that is filled with life where Christ can be found.
If the flame has gone out of our faith, if we don’t feel that burning in our hearts that the disciples felt at Emaus we will not be the place where Christ is to be found. But if our faith is alive, if our hearts are on fire than Jesus Christ will truly be in our midst.
No! don’t look for Jesus anywhere. Rather as believers in the Risen Lord create a living place where he may be found. As a Church we create a living place for the Resurrected Jesus when we welcome the immigrant amongst us; when we let them know that they have found a safe home here. We create that living place where Jesus is found in our care for the sick and the hungry. We create that living place in our outreach to the children, the most vulnerable, in our school and our catechism classes, our youth group and young adult ministry: we become the place of the living. We create that living place in our different groups: the CCW, the Knights, the Pan African group and Latino Ministry. In our community of prayer, in our vibrant liturgies, our celebration of the sacraments, our prayer groups, the hours people spend in prayer in our adoration chapel we show that we are that place of the living.
We do get it wrong at times. We are not perfect, sometimes we put programs over people, we preach too much on money and should preach more on Jesus. We judged rather than welcome. We forget people in our community and at times we see the other as other and not as sister or brother. But we ask forgiveness and we move on.
In this world in which we live, one where there is more and more talk of building walls. Where people don’t talk to one another because they are different, be it the color of their skin, the language they speak, or if they are too old or too young, where immigration status seems to be the key question, here at St. Alphonsus we are tearing down walls and then using those very same bricks to build bridges. Bridges to one another, bridges to the Resurrected Jesus.
Take a moment and look around you. See people who look like you, but also see people who don’t look like you. See infants who are carried in the parents arms, and elderly who are pushed by their children. You can see people who might have lived in this country for generations and you can see people who have arrived here less than a year ago. You can see people from every continent on this planet and from nearly 70 different countries. You can see folks who are rich but you can see more who are poor, but the majority of have enough to get by and who aren’t asking for more.
The Angel told the Holy Women not to look amongst the dead for Jesus. The Angel could have told them to look here. Yes, look for Jesus here in the Catholic community of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center. We are alive and well, and Jesus is in our midst.