The Good News of God's Love

04-18-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In the readings for Mass this weekend we learn that a holy mission has been entrusted to us by the risen Lord and that this mission is defined with the words such as reconciliation. Indeed it is not the great Feast of Easter "the great celebration of reconciliation"? In following the words and actions of Jesus we learn that His mission was one of reconciliation, and thus we who are His followers and witnesses have the mission of reconciliation.

Our first reading, a passage from the Acts of the Apostles, makes us focus on the words and preaching of Saint Peter. We should recall that this great saint first denied Christ three times and also was cowardly and did not stand by the Lord's cross. We know further that he experienced a great conversion at the Resurrection and has now focused his life and mission on the work that Jesus has given to him. Clearly Peter was forgiven his waywardness and sins and now he was to preach that forgiveness and reconciliation to others. His preaching was not based on theological theory, but on his actual sinfulness and, more importantly, being forgiven by the Lord.

Our second reading, which is written by John, tells us clearly that Christ brings forgiveness and reconciles us to God and yet the day-to-day difficulties of our lives also continue to exist. John writes that Christ intercedes for us, but John also invites us to live the reconciled life by adhering to God's commandments. We must realize that John tells us that his conversion is not simply an exercise of the mind. It is a much greater activity that must be seen in our daily lives. It is only by living the reconciled life that we really "know" Christ.

Note how the Gospel passage of this weekend begins with an experience of reconciliation: "Peace to you." This Gospel story reveals to us how the mission of reconciliation and peace is to be shared: it is to begin with sharing Scriptures. This means we must explain clearly to others the "good news of Jesus Christ" as found in the scriptures. Our first reading from the Letter of Peter does exactly that for us. As this proclaiming of the fulfillment of the prophets and the "good news" is told, the mission of Jesus is fulfilled and as a result the Church is starting to form its existence.

We must understand that the mission of Jesus preceded the Church for indeed the Church exists only because of His mission and only to fulfill the mission. Christ came before the Church. We must also acknowledge that when the Church ceases to carry out its mission, there is no church. The Church's mission is not to simply admire its beautiful ceremonies and churches, but rather the Church must continue to always preach the words of reconciliation and forgiveness given by Jesus. Always paying attention to our mission puts first things first and only then in a real strong sense does the church or our parish exist.