St. Aloysius Parish in Jackson, New Jersey
April 14, 2013
Young people live in the present moment. “Now” means more to young people than “yesterday or tomorrow.” As you get older, however, memories become more important, more precious. Memories help us return to those moments in our lives that have had some impact on us, that have affected us in some way. Not all such memories are good or happy ones. Other memories bring joy and a sense of peace and contentment.
I have a box in which I keep letters and cards from people. I have had it for years. Every once in a while, in quiet moments, I take that box out and read some of those letters and cards. A birthday card from my Mother. A note from my Father. Letters from various friends, living and dead, written for a whole variety of occasions over the years. These little pieces of correspondence recreate all kinds of moments and experiences in life: happy times, sad times, addressing successes and failures, and everything in between. Reading them releases emotions that well up from deep within.
Sometimes, the New Testament -- the Christian Scriptures -- seems like a similar kind of box. It contains letters and messages and stories written at a time far removed from the present from and by people or communities in far distant places. In quiet moments -- in fact, at every Mass we celebrate -- we take our scriptures and open to one of the many letters of St. Paul or to one of the four Gospels or, as is the case today, to the Acts of the Apostles. When we read or hear these scripture readings, we are transported back in time to moments and experiences at the origins of Christianity and the Church. Perhaps, it is more purposeful and accurate to say that we take our Christian heritage and transport it forward to the present. We recognize, as the Church, that the messages of the scriptures are not only historically addressed to the first Christians but, also, addressed to us.
We continue to celebrate the Easter Season in these days as we remember and call to mind Jesus’ death and resurrection and the impact it had on the early Church. Our Gospel from St. John today is an interesting story about the Apostles, seven of them, who, after the death of Jesus went back to their previous way of life: fishing. While their efforts do not seem successful, something happens. Jesus appears to them, unrecognized, but there nonetheless. He instructs them where to find fish and they follow his directions and make a catch. Then they recognize Jesus. “It is the Lord.” He invites them ashore where he has prepared a charcoal fire and invites them to breakfast. A charcoal fire appears twice in recent weeks: once, when Peter denies Jesus in the courtyard and, today, when he recognizes the Risen Lord. Jesus appears to his followers after his resurrection to give them encouragement, lest his memory simply fades away and they return to their former ways.
Jesus' appearances prepared the Apostles for what they would experience and encounter as they shared his memory and message with the world. Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles -- in fact our continuous reading throughout Easter -- tells that story.
Easter, for us, is a memory but, more than that, more than simply a recollection of something past, Easter is a present and future reality. It offers us the possibility to overcome the negative influence and power of this world, of the culture we live in, to live in Christ. Jesus constantly appears to us, inviting us to his meal, inviting us to follow him. We are an Easter people.
The theme of the Diocesan Youth Day celebration has been “Trenton’s Got Talent.” The “talent” that we celebrate in our Diocese is our ability as young people not only to live in the “now” but to know where the Church has been and to see where it is headed … and the part we play in the whole process of faith as young people. Like the Apostles in the Gospel today, we have the talent to recognize Jesus, to see him in others, to make him part of our life, to turn from bad things in order to do good. To make an Easter of every day of our lives.[[In-content Ad]]