The stories told by the early witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus present to us a picture of their reality. Even though these events took place over two thousand years ago, we can relate to the stories and the insights into the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, shared by the Gospel writers with their communities.
Within our families and our ministry communities, we likely have read, listened to, or told others about our ‘founding stories’. Such stories are precious. Just like the Easter stories, they tell of the experiences of loss, fear, disbelief, sadness, disillusionment, journeys taken, reunions, faith, joy and hope for an unknown future. These stories tap into the depths of the human spirit, the goodness and courage of ordinary people. These founders, women and men of faith, were able to do things which today, inspire us to continue their work through our contemporary Community Service, Education and Health and Aged Care Ministries.
There is no ‘one way’ for people to come to Faith (in a religious sense) or to develop faith in themselves or in others (in a more general sense). The journey to faith can be short or long, or somewhere in between. It can be relatively smooth or filled with setbacks. Sometimes it might be solitary or at other times with companions.
The characters in the Gospel stories responded in different ways to the events which were unfolding.
- Imagine how Mary of Magdala felt when she came to the tomb in which Jesus had been laid, only to find it empty;
- Imagine the disciples on their journey to Emmaus, their hopes torn apart with Jesus’ crucifixion, pouring out their hearts to a stranger they met on the road;
- Imagine the apostle Thomas who would not believe the story he was told about Jesus appearing to his followers unless he, himself, saw Jesus again;
- Imagine the joy when Mary recognised the voice of Jesus, when the person she thought was a gardener spoke her name;
- Imagine the joy of the disciples when they recognised Jesus through the way he broke the bread when they sat down to eat with a stranger.
It took time for the friends of Jesus to make sense of what was unfolding around them and to grasp its significance for their ongoing faith journey. They had to discover what it meant for them to be witnesses to the Good News. The ordinary events of life at this time were a window to the extraordinary. So it is with us and with the people we serve – it takes time to make sense of our experiences and to see in them some purpose and direction.
During these post-Easter weeks, we pray for insight into the broader reality of our experiences and give thanks for the opportunities which arise for us to help others make positive life choices. Within Mercy Ministry Companions, we strive to tell the ‘Good News’ of the triumph of life over death, and to witness to the fact that there is nothing so bad that it cannot become a source of hope for the future! We accompany others on their life’s journey and their faith journey. We respect each journey, especially when it is vastly different from our own, and we encourage each other to make a positive difference in whatever ways we can.
Annette Schneider RSM