Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Monday

 Readings: Acts 2:14,22-33; Psalm 16; Matthew 28:8-15

The French Dominican theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange wrote about three conversions in the spiritual life, three points at which the disciple enters more deeply into the experience of faith. He based it on the gospels themselves and on the experiences of the disciples.

The first conversion is our agreement to learn about Jesus, something the disciples did by being with him and something we do by reading the scriptures, praying, participating in the life of the Church, learning about Jesus and the lives of those who have followed him.

The second conversion means entering into the mystery of the cross. This is clearly a moment of great difficulty and people will be tempted to turn away, perhaps even to give up their faith. We only have to look at the reactions of the disciples in Holy Week, the actions of Judas and Peter, the abandonment of Jesus by the apostles, the way in which the women at least were able to stay with him through the time of loss and desolation.

In the third conversion the disciple becomes a child of the light. We see Peter in this stage in today's first reading. He is bold and confident, a man transformed. We can say that in spite of his difficulties in the time of his second conversion he has not seen corruption but has been kept for this time of third conversion by the Spirit.

The second conversion, entering into the mystery of the Lord's cross, is made possible for us by the resurrection. In fact we can say that the resurrection is the way in which Christians see the cross and understand its meaning. The resurrection does not replace the cross but illuminates it, shows us once and for all the love that is revealed there. But there will be fear and apprehension, of course, as we are asked to visit Gethsemane and Golgotha, perhaps more than once in our lives, fear and awe in the presence of God.

But with the third conversion comes joy, the joy that from now on and for evermore the face of Jesus is for us the face of God.

The Christian life brings us to these moments of conversion again and again. It is a reason why we celebrate each year the great events of salvation and read over and over again the texts of the New Testament. We want to learn from Jesus, to participate in the mystery of his death, so that we might come to share the glory of his resurrection.

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