Jesus lives!

17 April 2022 Easter Sunday Year C 2022

There was a Russian Cossack, who had two sons in the First World War. Their names were Peter and Gregory. One day the father received a letter from the front. Unable to read he handed it to his daughter.

It was from Gregory’s commanding officer and it began: “I regret to inform you that your son Gregory was killed in action on July 10.

Gregory was an excellent soldier, and you have every reason to be proud of him.” The effect of this news on the father was immediate and alarming. In a matter of days he aged, turning grey overnight. His memory began to fail and even his mind was affected. He began to drink to excess. He kept the letter under an icon in the kitchen. Each day he would take it down and ask his daughter to read it to him once more.

After the local priest had offered a Requiem Mass for his son, the father felt a little better, but only a little. Twelve days went on like this. On the thirteenth day a second letter arrived from the front. It contained an extraordinary piece of news. His son was not dead!

He had been wounded and left for dead on the battlefield. Next morning, he had regained consciousness and crawled four miles back to his own lines, dragging a wounded officer with him. In recognition of his bravery, he was to be raised to the rank of a corporal and awarded the Cross of St George. Right now, he was recovering in hospital, and they could expect a visit from him in a month’s time.

Once again, the effect on the father was immediate, except this time it was for the better. He was a sight to see. He was filled with joy. He grabbed the letter and went into the village with it, telling everyone he met; “My son is alive! He’s been awarded the St. George Cross for bravery!”

This story should give us some idea of the joy the disciples experienced on Easter Sunday morning. Just as the Cossack father gave witness to the news that his son was alive, so too Peter speaks to the household of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion.

Peter summarises for them the essence of the story of Jesus who was anointed by God, proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God, healed the sick, and liberated those who were possessed. However, having antagonised the authorities, Jesus was crucified. But he was now raised to new life. He had appeared to his disciples, shared food with them and commissioned them to bear witness to all people.

Hearing this news, the Spirit comes upon Peter’s audience, and all are baptised, Jews and Gentiles.

As we reflect on the resurrection of Jesus, we are reminded of this great news and renewed in our ability to bear witness to all people by our words and deeds.

Michael A Kelly CSsR

© Majellan Media 2022

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