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Be Not Afraid, He is Risen
An Easter Reflection

By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFM
Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus/ Order Franciscans of Mercy
An All Inclusive & Welcoming Old Catholic Ministry of Reformed Catholic Church
Link to Franciscans of Divine Mercy Web Site: www.orderfranciscansofmercy.org
Link to Mission Web Site:
www.missionstsergius.org
Email Address: Divinemercyparish@msn.com

Alleluia, Alleluia “This is the Day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24). “Do not be Afraid, You are looking for Jesus of
Nazareth who was crucified, He is not here, He has risen” (Mark 16:6). “Why do you search for the living among the Dead” (Luke24: 5 ) “He is not
here, He has been raised, exactly as He had promised” (Matthew 28:6). “Rabbouni (Hebrew for teacher) ….I have seen the Lord” (John20:18).
The above words taken from the four gospels relating the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ should have special meaning for us
and fill us with hope and trust in God.

The Gospel from Matthew for this Easter day reads as follows; “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and
the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and
rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and
became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not
here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come; see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the
dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear
and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and
worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The phrase, that I especially love and keep deep in my heart, is “Do Not Be Afraid” simply put, if you have faith in God and the truly believe the
promises of Jesus Christ, there is nothing in life that you need to be afraid of.  
By placing your trust in the will of God and believing that everything in life has a God given purpose, even the dissension that causes  separation,
bickering, or the power seeking of all those who profess to be followers of Christ and act in an manner that is inconsistent with Christ's teachings.  
In these days where division seems to be all around us in government and even faith communities we need to seek out what the root cause of it
is.  
At the heart of most of the discourse is the desire for power, control and most of all, MONEY.
How foolish we mere mortals are, we allow our pride, greed and envy to cloud our eyes so that we forget the message proclaimed by Jesus
through His resurrection. The message that with God, all things can be conquered, even death.  We also seem to conveniently forget what Christ
has taught us by His life, words and deeds. “Love one another as I have loved You”  
Christ proved His love and God's infinite mercy and love for us in the ultimate way, by willingly accepting death, not just any death, but the
ignominious death of crucifixion. What greater love could a person have but to be willing to give up their own life for another.
Christ not only conquered death, he conquered our sins because by His overcoming death and with His resurrection he brought us forgiveness
for our weaknesses and gained for us the promise of everlasting life.
Jesus came to us from Almighty God to be a “Rabbouni” teacher to us. He came to teach us the way to our own salvation and glory. The sad thing
is, all too often, we are either not willing to truly hear the teachings of Christ or if we do hear them we choose not to follow them because they are
inconvenient for us.  
All the proclamations of Hallelujah, all the prayers, all the ceremonial trappings and fancy vestments are for naught if we do not follow through
with actions.  If we do not assist the poor and needy, speak out against injustice and discrimination and share our gifts with those who are less
fortunate all our proclamations of loving God are just hot air.   We need to affirm, as Mary Magdalene did when she proclaimed “Rabbouni” that
Jesus was the teacher and we learned His lessons and we follow them by our actions in daily life.
Jesus was, is, and always will be the head of the church. He is directing those who believe through the Holy Spirit, “the giver of life who proceeds
from the Father and the son. With the Father and the son, is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.” (Nicene Creed)  He
speaks to each and every one of us who desire to know His truth and seek it out.  He does not just speak to the hierarchy but to all who, through
Baptism, have been called to “priesthood” not just those who have been consecrated as “Presbyters”.  Each and every person who has been
born again in Baptism needs to open their own hearts and minds and listen  for the voice of God speaking within us and judge how what we are
hearing complies with what Christ taught us, in not only His words but by His actions.
We need to acknowledge Christ by seeking the truth found in His teachings. We need to act in our daily lives in the manner that is consistent with
how Jesus instructed us in the Beatitudes.
“Why do you search for the living (Jesus) among the dead? “He has been raised, exactly as He promised”
Jesus is alive; he is alive in the hearts and souls of all those who have been reborn through Baptism and who faithfully live according to His
instructions. Christ is alive in every person who partakes of the “living Bread” the Eucharist.
He gave himself to us, died for us and rose from the dead to conquer forever death from sin.  Jesus taught us the way in order  for us to know how
to carry on His work here on earth while he and the Father watch over us.  On this Easter day, we need to believe and accept God’s will as taught
by Christ in words, deed and actions and emulate them in our life.
On this glorious day when we celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Let each of us who believe in Him and accept the
call to “Come Follow Me” (Luke 18:22) and work together to bring all who believe in the message and teachings of Christ together again as one
family. Each and every one of us needs to make a concerted effort to repair the breaches that have torn us apart into separate factions, usually
over some man made regulations that were instituted for the purpose of gaining control, power or political gain and which have nothing to do with
God‘s will.
There is only one God. There was only one Jesus Christ.  Christ, though His Apostles established one church, one faith.  It was not until that
church, for political gain under Constantine, began to selectively pick and choose the teaching that fit their agenda and objectives that separation
began and culminated when one Bishop decided that He, and only He was infallible and those who were supposed to be his equals were now
subservient to him.
Every Baptized Christian is called to be Christ's and God's servants and disciples.
All of us are called to live our faith and the teachings of Christ in our thoughts, words, and actions and not just by giving lip service.
We need to not only talk the talk but we need to Walk the walk.
Those of us who have been called to be shepherds and presbyters of His flock need find ways to work together with one voice just as Jesus
spoke with one voice. We need to stop the name calling and jockeying for power and financial gain and come together in unity with one message,
the message that Christ claimed was the two greatest commandments, “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, mind, soul and body and
the second is like unto it, Love your neighbor as you love yourself”
We need to realize that every human on the face of the earth is a child of God and our neighbor. We need to stop discriminating against people
because of their race, creed, marital status or sexual orientation and respect everyone as a child of God and our neighbor.
The Easter season has many symbols associated with it and some that people often do not know why we have Lilies, Eggs, Rabbits and baby
chicks on this holiday that really is a Christian feast day.
The egg is a symbol of the rock tomb out of which Christ emerged when he arose again. The chick, hatching out of the egg, symbolizes new life or
re-birth.
The rabbit, or hare, was a symbol of abundant new life in ancient times, and reminds us of spring and new life.
One symbol that many people do not know is the Butterfly, which symbolizes the risen Christ since the Caterpillar has to die in the cocoon (
grave) to rise again as the beautiful butterfly.
We Christians have a responsibility to make known to our children why we have Chickens, Rabbits, and eggs on this feast day and what they
symbolize.
Without Christ rising form the dead, his life, our ability to have everlasting life in heaven and the forgiveness of sin and his enduring his passion
and death would have all been a total waste.
Christ has given us new life just as His rising brought a new life and meaning to the teachings of God through the ages.

By living in accord with Christ’s teachings and proclaiming every Easter Sunday morning, “Alleluia, Alleluia, This is the Day the Lord has made, let
us rejoice and be Glad, Jesus Christ has risen, Jesus is alive. Alleluia, Alleluia.” we are saying that Jesus lives today in each of us and we are
carrying out His way each and every day.

Let us pray; “Give praise to the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures for ever. Alleluia, Alleluia. Send down Your spirit of love upon us and
through your goodness make us of one mind who you have bless with the Paschal Sacrament.  All glory honor and praise be yours, now and
forever.  AMEN.