The angel at Jesus’ tomb announces: “Do not be afraid…. He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” The place to look for Jesus after his death and resurrection is not among the dead but in Galilee.
Galilee is the place where Jesus lived out his ministry showing the reign of God in everyday life healing, feeding, teaching, showing compassion, acting for justice. Galilee, among the people, is where the Risen Jesus continues to bring about a new creation with and through us.
Jesus goes before us to the places needing the love and justice of God. We might find him among the people in the community organizing group MOSES (Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality and Solidarity) of which HWM is a part. Through MOSES’s lobbying efforts funding for the state’s Treatment Alternatives and Diversions fund has gone from $1 million to $4 million in the past year. Because of this, 1,000 fewer people every year in Wisconsin will be sent to county jails and prison. Instead they will have access to treatment. We might see Jesus among those who receive an opportunity for new life through substance abuse treatment.
We might find Jesus in the Rugango Parish in Rwanda. The parish partnered with the diocese and Catholic Relief Services to create a Community Healing and Reconciliation Program. This program fosters discussion and forgiveness among people of the community. America magazine reported on the programs work earlier this month.
Among the stories is that of Esperance M’Mugemana and Fidele Mparikubwimana, who killed several members of Esperance’s family during the genocide. Esperance speaks calmly, and with quiet strength. “When they said I could meet the person who killed my husband and family, I didn’t want to meet him. But he came to ask me forgiveness. I told him, if you ask from deep within your heart, I forgive you.”
Fidele spent 11 years in jail for his crimes. He says, “After participating in [this program through the diocese’s] justice and peace commission, I realized that I did wrong. I came to ask forgiveness. She forgave me.” As he speaks, his eyes become wet with tears. (America, April 7, 2014, p. 14) In Esperance and Fidele, we see Jesus.
In another story, Viviane N’Habimana says: “I am a genocide survivor. It was difficult to forgive.” And yet she managed not only to forgive but to help Bonface Hakizimana, the man who destroyed her home.
Boniface says: “I killed people. I was in prison 10 years. Because of the crime I did, my conscience urged me to confess and ask forgiveness.” When he was released from prison, he learned that Viviane was living in peace and harmony with his wife. “She helped my wife to feed me in the prison,” he said. The two demonstrate their unity by embracing. “Today we are united and together we focus on the future. I can’t express how I feel in my heart after being forgiven,” he says. “It was a kind of rest. I had it heavy on my heart.” (America, April 7, 2014, p. 15.)
Let us rejoice; Jesus has been raised. He is going ahead of us. Wherever his ministry of compassion and justice continues, there we will see him.