Children of God

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Monday in the Octave of Easter

Matthew 28:8-15
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.
Opening Prayer: Here I am, Lord. I come to hear your Gospel and live it out in my life. Please be with me on my journey today, and shepherd me through my fears so I can experience your joy.
Encountering Christ:

  1. Family of Love: Jesus told the women to announce to his brothers that he would go to Galilee. This was the first time in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus referred to his disciples as his brothers. This describes the family relationship that was restored after the Resurrection. Our relationship with God, which was broken by the fall of man, has been repaired in Christ’s death and Resurrection. We are truly his brothers because we have been restored to the dignity of being “children of God” (John 1:12). God is our Father, and Christ is our brother. The letter to the Hebrews explains the connection between Christ and his disciples: “He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers’” (Hebrews 2:11). Both Christ and those who follow him “have one origin”; we are all from the Father. Therefore, we have a filial relationship with the Holy Trinity and with each other. We are a family of love, united in Christ: “For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).
  2. The End of Fear: Being a child of God means that we need not be afraid any longer. We do not have to be alone in our fear, because we are surrounded by the love of our spiritual family: God our Father, Christ our brother, the Holy Spirit, and our brethren in the Church. The women were “fearful yet overjoyed” when the angel announced Christ’s Resurrection to them. Jesus, sensing their fear, assured them, saying: “Do not be afraid.” Christ’s presence drove away their fear. Fear can hold us back from experiencing joy. We can ask ourselves if there are things that are causing us any fear in this moment, and then offer those fears to Jesus so he can give us his protection and guide us through them, as our Good Shepherd (Psalm 23). When we invite Jesus into our fears, he can help us face them with courage instead of running away from them. 
  3. The Beginning of Joy: Eastertide is the source of our true joy. The fear and uncertainty of Good Friday and Holy Saturday have turned into the joy and surety of the Easter proclamation: “Alleluia! He Is Risen!” St. John Paul II exhorted us to break free from fear and despair because of our identity as children of God and members of the Church. He said, “Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are the Easter people and ‘Hallelujah’ is our song.” “Alleluia” has returned to our liturgies. Jesus has changed our mourning into dancing. He has removed the sackcloth of our grief and clothed us with gladness (cf. Psalm 30:12). Let us rejoice!

Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, I am honored and humbled to be one of your brethren. Sometimes I forget that I am a child of God and fall into fear and despair. Help me to call on you to be at my side when I am afraid. Help me to praise you when I am joyful. Help me to always live with dignity and love as a child of our Father.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine my fears and bring them to you to shepherd me through them.
For Further Reflection: Here is a list of Psalms that are comforting to pray when you are afraid: Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd…”; Psalm 56: “In God I trust, I do not fear…”; Psalm 34: “The Lord “delivered me from all my fears…”; and Psalm 91: “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
Written by Carey Boyzuck.

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