About an hour later, still another insisted,
“Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.”
But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.”
Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed,
and the Lord turned and looked at Peter;
and Peter remembered the word of the Lord,
how he had said to him,
“Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly. 

Luke 22:59-62

My dear friends in Christ,

The cock crowed.  And then, their eyes met. Peter would never forget the look in Jesus’ eyes.  Such heartbreaking sadness. How could he have denied the one he loved?  Oh, the things he wanted to tell him.  But he was gone.  Crucified. Dead. In the tomb. The combination of grief and guilt was more than Peter could bear. He recalled the day that Jesus had gotten into his boat. Everything changed. Jesus fed the five thousand, healed the sick, calmed the raging sea. But more than that, He had called Peter by name. Peter was chosen, beloved. And now, all was lost.  He had lost his friend, his Lord, and everything that he had lived for. He had lost hope and didn’t know how he would go on.

Later that day, Mary Magdalene and the other women reported the words of the angels, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?  He is not here, but he has been raised.”  The other disciples thought that they were talking nonsense.  But Peter ran to the tomb and saw the burial cloths on the ground.  He began to hope.  Soon he would encounter the Risen Christ himself.  Their eyes would meet once again.  From Jesus’ gaze, Peter received not condemnation, but life.  The power of Christ’s resurrection surged through his body like a bolt of lightning.  Death was vanquished.  And Peter was reunited with his beloved and would never be separated again.  With all of his being, he would proclaim the good news, “He is risen!”

As we contemplate the suffering of a world ravaged by war, poverty, and injustice, it sometimes feels more like Good Friday than Easter.  But we celebrate Easter not as a mere historical commemoration, but as a present reality.  Christ is risen, now and always.  And each of us, like Peter, is chosen and beloved.  Jesus is the “light that shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)  And he calls us, his disciples, to be bearers of his light and hope.

At the Easter Vigil, the church is in total darkness as the priest enters with the light of the new Easter Candle as the only source of light.  As that light is passed from candle to candle, person to person, the dark church is soon filled with a heavenly, sublime light.  May the light of the Risen Christ shine forth in our lives bringing hope, love and peace… to our troubled world, to our country, to our community, to our families. 

Christ is risen!  Truly risen!  Alleluia!

Much love in the Risen Christ,

Fr. Jim

An Easter Message from Fr. Jim