Celebrating the gift of an all-accepting love

The risen Christ calmed the hearts of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the primate writes, each knowing he had seen them fully. Photo: Gebhard Fugel, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Published March 1, 2024
Photo: Anglican Church of Canada/Milos Tosic

Human beings were created by the love of God for love of God and neighbour, expressed in a variety of ways through friendship, marriage, family and community. Whenever we begin a friendship or an intimate relationship we long for it to be one in which we can be honest and truthful, accepted, respected and loved no matter what we have said or done. While the relationship may not be free of consequences for words and actions that harm others, we hope it will provide a safe space in which to receive and give forgiveness, and where renewal can be discovered and lived.

Many years ago, while on retreat, my group and I undertook the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. Beforehand we spent several days rooting ourselves in the love of God. This was an essential foundation for the retreat exercises that would follow, in which we were invited in silence and prayer into an intimate honesty with God. We needed to know and be secure in the love of God to have the vulnerability required by that honesty. Then we experienced God’s deep grace—a grace deeper than we had imagined.

What does that have to do with Easter? In the days following the Resurrection, the disciples encountered the risen Christ in different ways and places—on the road to Emmaus; in the upper room; while having a beachside breakfast. Grappling with the enormity of the Resurrection, they encountered Christ and knew that they had all abandoned him at the most critical hour—that of his arrest and trial. Imagine what it was like for them to now meet him in the Resurrection, knowing he could see into the darkest places of their souls.

In those moments, the risen Christ offers what they need. The hearts of the disciples on the road to Emmaus are calmed and reassured as he breaks bread with them. Upon the disciples in the upper room he breathes peace. To Thomas he offers the visible signs he needs. Peter he commissions to love and feed those entrusted to him. They each know Christ has seen them fully and in his presence they are safe. Here they have all they need, and nothing will be able to separate them from his love—even if they fail again in the future.

This is the gift of the Resurrection appearances, guaranteed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, that is ours too. In this relationship with God we can be known—warts and all—and loved. That complete acceptance is the root of the love we can then give to a world that longs for it.

As we celebrate the Resurrection at Easter, let us celebrate the gift of a love in which nothing is hidden and of one who loves us as we are—and as we will become, by God’s grace.



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