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Lost and found so we can find the lost | Word Alive

Fr. Anthony Caruana

Friday, April 2, 2021

Detail of The Magdalene Runs to the Cenacle to Tell the Apostles That the Body of Jesus Is No Longer in the Tomb by James Tissot. Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum

Lost and found so we can find the lost

A reflection for Easter Sunday, Year B

by Fr. Anthony Caruana

How frustrating is it when you need something and you cannot find it? Even more so if what you are looking for is right under your nose and you keep missing it! Losing something can be frustrating, but finding it can feel like mission accomplished! Sometimes maybe even leading you to forget why you went looking for it in the first place!
Truth be told, whether we know it or not, we are always searching, looking for something...or someone. That’s why there is a restlessness within us. Whom are you looking for?
Once I went looking for Jesus. I was granted a whole month in the Holy Land on a sabbatical course. I had never been, and this was the trip of a lifetime. But I wasn’t going simply to deepen my biblical knowledge. My "faith" – my relationship with Jesus – had hit something of a frustratingly flat patch. I reasoned that if I trod the same path he had trodden surely I would bump into him: the Risen Jesus. I was fully expecting to encounter him in one of the many shrines and churches. And yet whether it was in Bethlehem, Mt. Tabor, the shores of Galilee, or even the Holy Sepulchre, I couldn’t find Jesus: my faith hadn’t received the much-desired boost. Until the day of my birthday when I ended up having a long chat with one of the interns. And I was so surprised to see that every time we spoke about Jesus, tears would stream down her cheeks. It was at that precise moment that I knew I had found Jesus on this trip. That experience stayed with me, and I have shared it many times. My friend had found Jesus in her life, and she was no longer lost. His love for her felt so real that it just made her cry.
What makes you weep? Is it coming to faith in Jesus?
We come to faith in so many different ways. For some it seems faith is so easy. It’s like a gift they've received. Somehow they just "know". For others faith is always a struggle, something to grapple with. For others still, faith is so intimate it makes them cry. We see this played out "on the first day", as various disciples shift from darkness to light. They come to faith in different ways and at different speeds. Some are like the beloved disciple, who believes even before he sees. Others are like Mary of Magdala – their search for Jesus is so emotionally-charged, so frantic, that they miss him when they bump into him. For others still, perhaps like Peter, their faith is more of a wrestling match with God. If you are the latter – and sometimes I have been – my experience has been that it is always better to wrestle than to walk away. When you wrestle with God, you are actually still in his arms. Eventually you will tire and you will know that he was trying to embrace you all along. Peter’s faith is a wrestled-with, messy, "lived-in" faith.
So just as the beloved disciple, Peter, and Mary Magdalene come to faith in different ways, so do we. Yet these three are not the only people mentioned in this text. There is still one group of people who are also meant to be found by faith in the Risen Jesus: "the brothers". They must have been feeling so lost on that day! The way they come to faith is different too: they come to faith in Him through the first missionary disciple: Mary of Magdala. This, after all, is how most people come to faith: because others say to them, "I have seen the Lord!" Your own faith is a "descendant" of that first proclamation. Our moment of encounter with the Risen Jesus – the moment we find Him – is not a story to hold on to but a story to share. Finding the Risen Jesus is not mission accomplished; it is just the start of your mission.
After all, every time we go looking for something, it is not for the sake of the search but because we need that object and want to use it. Our faith in the Risen Jesus, too, is something perhaps once lost and hopefully now found. And now Jesus says to you "go" and with it find the lost!
He is Risen! Hallelujah! Who will you find today to tell them they are lost no longer?

The readings for Easter Sunday, Year B, are
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
John 20:1-18

Fr. Anthony G. Caruana is a priest of the Diocese of Gozo (Malta). He served for 8 years in Edinburgh (Scotland) and is now Associate Pastor of Christ the King Parish in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

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