One of my closest friends was a priest called Steve. He loved people and he loved God. As the years went by, we grew very close and I have to say he had a profound influence on me.
I used to go with him when he was filling in for priests who were on holiday or needed a break. One weekend, we drove from Durham to Alnwick in Northumberland. We arrived early in the afternoon and, after a walk around the town, got ready for the Saturday evening Mass.
When it came to the homily, Steve stepped down off the sanctuary and began to wander up and down the church. Every now and then he would stop and look at someone and smile and say to them, ‘Do you know that you are loved by God?’ Several people had tears in their eyes as Steve sat down next to them and held their hands for a moment or put his arm around them explaining that God was as close to them as he, Steve, was. It was a very powerful image of entering into the mystery that is God, of being held by a God who can only love.
I often reflect on that experience and ask why people found it so moving. I think it is because of the intimate relationship between God and humanity. The search for God begins when we dare to believe that God is in the human condition. I think one of our problems is that all too often we divorce the spiritual from the human, and never the twain shall meet.
We have just celebrated Easter, but I wonder how many of us recognise the risen Christ in our midst. I wonder what it means for us to say, ‘He is alive for us’ or ‘He is living in us’. Can we dare to trust that we will find the risen Christ in the mess and wonder that we call humanity?
In the Easter Gospels, Galilee represents the ordinariness of life. All of Jesus’ friends met him in their daily lives in Galilee. Even though after the resurrection we are told that he was the same but different, they will meet him again in their daily lives and they do. The same is true for us. If we look for the risen Lord in the human reality that is our lives, we will find him. The challenge is to look for the Lord within ourselves, within one another, even within those we find most difficult.
As we journey, we will meet Jesus but we have to start trusting and believing that he is on the road of life and that, just as once he was at work in Galilee, so he's still at work today in our lives and all around us, waiting for us to recognise him, for us to look for the risen Lord.