You Can Run But You Cannot Hide!

04-16-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

You can run but you cannot hide! These words came to my mind as I was thinking about Easter and reflecting on the readings from Mass the past few weeks. One of the clearest points that Jesus made by rising from the dead is that we cannot hide from His desire to love us. Two Fridays before Easter the Gospel at Mass recounted Jesus’ “secret” entry into Jerusalem: “You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because my time has not yet been fulfilled.” After he had said this, he stayed on in Galilee. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but [as it were] in secret. (John 7:8-10) Jesus did go up to the feast and He was recognized, He could not hide: So some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Messiah?” (John 7:25- 26) Jesus was too good to be true to some people and His presence always brought the light of God’s love, a love no one can hide from and find peace. Yet sadly, some people wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Thinking they knew better than Jesus who God was and what God expected from them, they sought to arrest Him and kill Him, a motive that came to fruition late Holy Thursday night and on Good Friday. Their closed minds and self-absorption led them to hide from the ultimate love we all seek, desire, and need to live fully in this world and to live eternally in joy in the next.

Jesus knew that He would be betrayed and that fear would overpower some of His disciples when He was arrested and crucified. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (Matthew 26:20-21) Then Jesus said to them, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed’; but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.” Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And all the disciples spoke likewise. (Matthew 26:311-35) Having spent three years of public ministry with His closest followers, He knew their strengths and weaknesses. But this did not stop Him from loving them. He knew their hearts. He knew that they were touched deeply by His love and would respond with complete hope, conviction, and gratitude when He rose from the dead. As we know, the Resurrection not only makes it clear that Jesus has conquered death, He has also conquered sin and evil. It is doubt, sin, and evil that lead us to turn away from God and hide from the source of true life - His love and His presence. Neither disappointment, ignorance, fear, nor rejection could in any way make Jesus hide Himself and His love for His followers. Every time we look at the cross and make the sign of the cross on our bodies, we are remembering and reminding ourselves of how far God has gone in Jesus to make it clear that He loves us.

When Jesus rose He came back to His followers, once again assuring them of His love for them. In the last chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, we have the account of Jesus walking with two of his disciples who left the city of Jerusalem and were on the road to a village called Emmaus. In their conversation, He sees their lost hope and disappointment over His crucifixion and death, “But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.” (Luke 24:21) Their lack of faith and understanding was hiding the presence of Jesus from them. They were not the ones who found their way out of hiding. Jesus found them. He was not disappointed in their loss of hope. He simply revealed Himself to them when they sat down to eat as He broke the bread and gave it to them. At that point they were no longer lost in mind or heart. Jesus had risen and He still loved them. They went back and shared their joyful good news. When Jesus appeared on the shore after rising from the dead and the disciples who were fishing came in and recognized Him, He asked Peter three times - Do you love me? (John 21:15-19) How could Peter not respond, You know that I love you? Now it was clearer than ever that Jesus loved him. The Risen Christ wanted to lift up those He loved and who believed in Him.

Where do we find ourselves hiding and being lifted up by Jesus and His love? The resurrection is much more about the life-giving love of Jesus than about how He was unjustly condemned, rejected, denied, and abandoned. The moment the Risen Jesus appeared to His followers it was clear that He loved them more than ever. No longer did they need to hide from Him or from all those who made them fearful during the arrest, passion, and death of Jesus. In the fourth preface to the Eucharistic Prayer for Easter we hear these words: For, with the old order destroyed, a universe cast down is renewed, and integrity of life is restored to us in Christ.” A person of integrity knows who he or she is and is faithful and consistent in what he or she believes. No one is more consistent than the Risen Christ. Death did not end or weaken His love for His followers, nor did He stop hoping even His enemies would see the blessing He wanted to be for them. Can we see what a blessing Jesus is for us? What hides this wonderful truth from us? What can we do to become more and more people of integrity in the way we live our lives. With Jesus we can rise above fear of what others think or say. We can be secure in who we are in Him. The challenges will always be there as they were for Him during His earthly life. Christ has died! Christ is Risen! Christ will come again! He comes again and again when we open our hearts in prayer and receive Him in the Eucharist. To rise above all that keeps us hiding from Jesus is to embrace His loving presence in our everyday lives. We don’t run to hide; we run to the source of unconditional love.

Happy Easter!!!!

Fr. Wald