by Ken Rolheiser
Go to Galilee this Easter

This special after Easter time gives us a chance to catch what we missed this Easter and perhaps all the Easters of our lives. We have fifty days to do this. God is generous! Bring the chocolate and let’s celebrate!

Jesus rose from the grave that first Easter, and he said to his disciples, “Go to Galilee.” That was where they first met Jesus and fell in love with all that he represented and promised. This Easter Jesus says to us, “Go back to Galilee”, to that time when we first believed. For many of us it is our childhood family and church experience.

For me it is St Donatus, a country church on a hill. I remember Easter services we travelled to by bobsled. Following Holy Thursday night adorations, the harnesses jingled as we rode the two miles home and marvelled at the northern lights display that had a reddish tinge.

So many childhood Christmas and Easter celebrations made up our Galilee in this close-knit rural community with extended farm families celebrating God’s blessings and goodness together.

All this before computers and artificial intelligence. The birth of Jesus was real. The death and resurrection of Jesus was real. The intelligent perception of all this wonder was real! Our Galilee was real.

Why go to Galilee? That is where Jesus spent his time preaching and teaching and performing miracles. Yes, we need to recall the miracles in our lives, the catechism we learned at our mother’s knee, the time we spent close to Jesus and his ministry.

Jesus chose to meet in Galilee away from the scrutiny and threat of the religious leaders and Roman authorities who may have been watching their every move. In a similar way we need to go to our Galilee away from the secular world that distracts and often threatens our commitment to Jesus.

Go to Galilee, and there you will see me. Where is Jesus most visible today? Father Brendan McGuire shares the place where he is most sure of the resurrection and the promise of eternal life. That is his ministry with the sick and dying. It is profound, he says. It has changed his life.

The resurrection is real, he says. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. “I have been there for so many last breaths,” McGuire says. But he also experiences their journey of life.

One example he shared this Easter Sunday was a parishioner who asked him to anoint his dying wife. “Can I talk to you first,” the parishioner asked. “She is dying of cancer. We have not been in the church for a long, long time.”

During covid the couple had found their way back to Jesus on Sunday morning live-streamed services. Now she wanted to see McGuire.

“Will you anoint her? Father, before you anoint, she is not Catholic.” So he baptized her, confirmed her and she received her first communion. Her life brightened, “like I had given her a million-dollar lottery ticket,” McGuire said. “You would have never known she was in the last moments of her life.”

The gift of eternal life is marvellous. “I now see him. I am ready to go to him. I am at peace. You have given me peace,” she said. It was so powerful.

In the darkness of pain, suffering and death, in the darkness of the tomb, it is ok with us. Because of the resurrection. Christ redeemed the world, physical and spiritual. Desolation is gone. Christ lives.

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