The story in John’s Gospel can’t be more suggestive and challenging. Only when they see Jesus risen in their midst does the group of disciples get transformed. They recover peace, their fears disappear, they’re filled with an unheard of joy, they take notice of Jesus’ breath of encouragement over them, and they open their doors because they feel themselves sent to live out the same mission that he had received from the Father.
The current crisis in the Church, her fears and her lack of spiritual vigor, all originate at a deep level. All too frequently the idea of Jesus’ resurrection and his presence in our midst is just one doctrine more that is thought about and preached, rather than a lived experience.
The resurrected Christ is at the center of the Church, but his living presence doesn’t take root in us, isn’t incorporated into the substance of our communities, doesn’t nourish our day to day projects. After 20 centuries of Christianity, Jesus isn’t known or understood in his originality. He isn’t loved or followed as he was by his disciples.
It’s evident right away when a group or a Christian community feels itself inhabited by that invisible but real and active presence of the risen Christ. It won’t be enough to routinely follow the directives that regulate Church life. They possess a special sensibility of listening, seeking, remembering and applying Jesus’ Gospel. These are the most healthy and living spaces in the Church.
Nothing or no one can support us today in the energy, joy and creativity that we need to confront our unprecedented crisis, as can the living presence of the risen Christ. Deprived of his spiritual vigor, we won’t leave our almost innate passivity behind, we’ll move on with doors closed to the modern world, we’ll keep doing «what’s ordered», without joy or conviction. Where will we find the energy we need to recreate and reform the Church?
We need to react. We need Jesus more than ever. We need to live from his living presence, remembering his criteria and his Spirit at every step, constantly thinking again about his life, letting him be the inspiration of our action. He can pass on to us more light and energy than anyone else. He’s in our midst, communicating to us his peace, joy, Spirit.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf