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 | By Sister Ann Shields

Easter Grace Continues

After the Easter eggs are found and the chocolate is gone, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions during this Easter season, which does not end until Pentecost.

Do I realize Jesus died for me so I might have eternal life with him? Do I realize he bore all that sin and horror and torture for me? He paid the debt for our sin – a debt we could never pay if there were not a merciful God; a merciful Father who received his Son’s life on our behalf; a merciful Savior who took all our sins upon the cross. Ponder this throughout the Easter season, and may it lead to thanksgiving as you slowly comprehend more and more what Jesus did for you – not for millions and billions of people, but one by one for you and for me. You were known when Jesus was falsely accused, then tortured and condemned – he did it for you so you might have eternal life.

In these 50 days of the Easter season between Easter Sunday and Pentecost, spend some time with Scripture:

1. Read carefully from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24. Pay special attention to verses 13-35. This is the story of the discouraged friends of Jesus who thought he was dead. They were leaving the other followers, leaving the city – discouraged, downcast, frightened. Read carefully. Look what God did for them. We, too, may be going through circumstances that are very hard, even frightening. After we read what Jesus did for those early disciples, is it not clear he will care for us? Of course he will. Put your faith in Jesus, in his love for you. If Jesus opened the gates of heaven for you, so that you might have eternal life, do you not think he will care for you right now in whatever difficulties you are experiencing?

2. Read two or three of the psalms listed every day. Thank God with the living words of Scripture. As you do, God will fill your soul with hope in him and, over the coming weeks, the grace of Easter will begin to pour into your soul. The feast of Easter and all its graces continue to the feast of Pentecost each year.

Rejoice and be glad! He is risen! Alleluia!

Reflect on these words from scripture: Luke 24: 28-35

As they approached the village to which they were going, [Jesus] gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

In Matthew 25:35-36, we hear Jesus say, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” Jesus goes on to say, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (25:40).

How can we put these words into action in our own lives?

Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty – So many people in the world go without food and clean water. In a land where food is often wasted and clean water taken for granted, consider donating to a local food bank or volunteering at a soup kitchen. Consider making a double batch of meals that can be easily frozen, and donate a home-cooked meal to a shelter.

Shelter the homeless – Consider supporting agencies that help on a daily basis or in times of disaster. Consider volunteering at a local homeless shelter or with Catholic Charities refugee services.

Clothe the naked and give alms to the poor –Too often we live our lives in comfort and forget the needs of those around us. Consider donating new clothes to charity. Or skip going out to lunch and put that money in the collection basket.

Visit prisoners – All people have dignity because God created everyone in his image. No matter what someone has done, they deserve to hear and receive God’s mercy. Consider getting involved in a parish prison ministry, or volunteer time to charities that help support children whose parents are in prison.

Visit the sick and bury the dead – Do not shy away from those who need comfort because of illness. Consider donating blood or taking time off to visit friends or relatives who are homebound or hospitalized. Pay respect to those who have died by taking time to attend funerals, and praying for the souls of the departed and for their families.