RETURN TO GALILEE
The Gospels have gathered the story of some admirable women who at the dawn after the Sabbath, have drawn near the tomb where Jesus had been buried. They can’t forget him. They keep loving him more than anyone else. In the meantime, the men have fled and are still hidden perhaps.
The message they hear when they get there is of exceptional importance. Matthew’s Gospel tells it like this: «Are you looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the one who was crucified? He isn’t here. He has risen as he said. Come and see the place where he lay». It’s wrong to look for Jesus in the world of death. He’s alive forever. Never will we be able to find him where life has died.
We mustn’t forget it. If we want to find the Risen Christ, full of life and creative power, we mustn’t look for him in a dead religion, one that is reduced to the external fulfillment of precepts and routine rituals, or in a faith that is extinguished, a faith that sustains itself in worn-out clichés and formulas, empty of a living love for Jesus.
Therefore: where can we find him? The women receive this task: «Go quickly and tell the disciples – he has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you to Galilee; that is where you will see him». Why do they need to return to Galilee in order to see the Risen One? What deep meaning is contained in this invitation? What is this saying to us Christians today?
It is in Galilee that they heard, for the first time and in its full purity, God’s Good News and the Father’s humanizing project. If we don’t return to listen to these today with a simple and open heart, we might feed on venerable doctrines, but we won’t know that joy of Jesus’ Gospel, capable of «raising up» our faith.
It was on the banks of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus’ first community was born. There his followers live a unique experience at his side. His presence fills everything. He is the center. With him they learn to go about welcoming, forgiving, healing life and awakening a trust in God’s unfathomable love. If we don’t put Jesus in the center of our communities starting yesterday, we’ll never experience his presence in our midst.
If we return to Galilee, the «invisible presence» of the Risen Jesus will take on human features when we read the Gospel stories, and his «silent presence» will find its concrete voice when we hear his words of encouragement.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf