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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Christ is Risen, Indeed He is Risen!

Today, over one year after the pandemic began, the whole world is still silent. Still struggling, still frustrated, still waiting for some normalcy to return. Most of us are still in our homes, in a sense we’re “entombed.”

We can relate to the apostles some 2,000 years ago. After Jesus’ crucifixion, they locked themselves inside. Waiting for Jesus to come? No. They were afraid, not knowing what to do with their lives. They were also “entombed.” Their doors locked, windows shut, and afraid the Romans would come in and kill them. Our doors are still locked, our mouths are still covered, and we’re afraid that a virus will come in and kill us.

The disciples were in pain. They saw Christ crucified and killed. “Jesus is dead, now what do we do?” What changed them? Did they go out in the open and seek out Jesus? No. In fact, when they did see Jesus, they didn’t even recognize Him!

When Mary Magdalene arrived at the empty tomb, she thought He was the gardener. “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” (John 20:15). She even accused Him of stealing His own body. And when the apostles were on the road to Emmaus, they also didn’t recognize Jesus.

It was Jesus who appeared to the disciples, “when the doors were locked…for fear of the Jews…” (John 20:19). They too didn’t recognize Him, they thought He was a ghost. But all along it was Jesus who was seeking after them. Not the other way around.

Christ is seeking after you, always looking for you. No prison or locked doors can keep Him away. Only one thing can keep Him away, our own hearts. If we take a moment to recognize Him, we will realize that He is here! Not only does He want to be with you but He’s calling you by name. He is looking for you!

If you’re having trouble finding Him and recognizing his voice in this noisy world, you need to simply sit back and say, “Lord, reveal yourself to me.” Open your hearts and see how the Lord will work.

When Mary thought He was a thief who stole the body, what did Christ do?… He called her by name. “Mary!” He calls YOU by name. For some of us, it’s a process to recognize His voice. Sometimes we need to begin by saying, “Lord speak, your servant is listening.” Then we will see Him, just as Mary saw and recognized Him, just as the apostles finally saw the Lord on Easter Sunday.

If you’re thinking, “I’m sinful… I’m bad… there’s no way God is calling me by name,” remember Peter. After denying Christ three times, the Gospel of Luke says after the third denial, his eyes met Jesus’ eyes. Jesus’ gaze penetrated Peter’s soul. Peter recognized he was doing wrong and after weeping bitterly, he came back and brought the apostles together to pray.

Let us not be like the apostles when they weren’t looking for Jesus, staying locked in out of fear. Let us recognize that Jesus is looking for us. They became alive and we also need to become alive, especially if we still feel pain, anxiety, and uncertainty about our future.

You need to take a breath and invite the Holy Spirit into your life. You need to enjoy the Son. The gaze of the Savior is the only thing that can save you, and He’s looking at you, staring at you right now. Will you see Him looking at you?

When you do, you can’t help but to proclaim and say, blessed be the Name of Jesus, both now and forever!

† Mar Francis Y. Kalabat
Bishop of the Chaldean Diocese
of St. Thomas the Apostle U.S.A.