“Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” The death of Jesus had shaken the faith of the apostles to their core; everything seemed finished, all their certainties had crumbled, and all their hopes had died. However, in the gloom of darkness and in the midst of uncertainty, something important happened that irrevocably changed their lives. After the Resurrection, the disciples encountered the Lord, not as a spirit, but as a living person whom they had known and shared fellowship with during the weeks and years before the events of Good Friday. Their encounter with the Risen Lord became stronger when He commanded Mary to go to Galilee and tell the disciples what they had seen and witnessed—that Jesus Who suffered and died had Risen.
Galilee is an important place in the Gospels. It is the place where the apostles were first called, where everything began. The apostles walked around and worked on the Sea of Galilee. But when Jesus called them, they left everything and followed Him. Galilee is where Jesus asked His disciples to return to when He rose from the dead. To “return to Galilee” means to reread everything on the basis of the cross and victory, to reread everything from start to finish. It also means going back to our origin of faith, Jesus.
It is not easy to keep up our faith as we encounter so much fear and uncertainty with the spread of COVID–19 in the United States and around the globe. When we look around, we might easily get discouraged and consider giving up hope. When we listen to the news and see what is happening around the globe, we might tend to ask ourselves, “Where is it all going, and when is it all going to end? What is next?” When we consider all that is happening in the lives of those around us and in our own lives, we may be tempted to feel the despondency of the apostles in the pre-dawn hours of that first Easter. In such situations, the Lord tells us, “Do not be afraid; return to Galilee.” Our hope in the face of problems such as death, illness, weakness, financial hardships, crime, suffering, war and terrorism, fear and uncertainty lies in hearing, accepting, living and proclaiming that same consoling message, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
What is the spiritual truth revealed in this time of the coronavirus? God does not create evil. God does not permit suffering. If God allows some evil, it is only so that a greater good may be accomplished, according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Or, as St. John, the Evangelist put it, evil exists in the world “so that the works of God might be made visible” (John 9:3). The situation, rather, calls us to ask how we can meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and how we can serve those who are suffering? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., referred to such suffering as redemptive because “we unite ourselves by our acts of will, our acts of faith, our acts of hope and charity, to the redemptive, suffering of Christ.”
We are advised to maintain social distance, for our own safety and for the safety of others. This does not mean that by distancing ourselves physically from each other we scatter into the darkness of sin and selfishness. If we choose to live in the light of Christ, we will give testimony to that Light by caring for others and by performing whatever acts of love and kindness the Spirit reveals to us. That is, in this moment of hardship we are called to do justice, to express love and mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
Like the disciples in the beginning at the Sea of Galilee, when we decided to follow Jesus, we did not know what the journey would bring and where it would lead. But we had hope, along with faith, and Christ in return has always been faithful to us even when our faith was weak or has wavered. In times of difficultly and uncertainty, let us remember the “go back to [the] Galilee” experience and draw strength from the faith and hope we had at the beginning of our journey to follow Christ. As Paul reminds us in his second letter to the Corinthians, “My [God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Cor.12:9).
Friends, I wish you all and your families a Happy Easter. May the Risen Lord bless you and keep you, your homes and your families safe and healthy. God bless!
– Father Devdas