“They got up immediately and returned to Jerusalem.” —Luke 24:33
Acts of the Apostles was written over forty years after Jesus’ resurrection. By that time, some of the second generation Christians had lost their first love for the Lord (see Rv 2:4). Acts was written to stir again into flame the gift of the Holy Spirit (see 2 Tm 1:6-7). Acts teaches that the way to be renewed is to go back and pick up where you’ve left off. Jeremiah prophesied: “Stand beside the earliest roads, ask the pathways of old” (Jer 6:16). Hosea prophesied that we must go back into the desert and respond to the Lord “there as in the days” of our youth (Hos 2:16-17; see also Jer 2:2). We must return to our first love and our former godly deeds (Rv 2:4-5).
We may even need to go back to “square one” — to “the three o’clock hour” (see Acts 3:1) when Jesus died on the cross for us, and to the time of Jesus’ resurrection, whether it was forty or nearly two thousand years ago. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we must turn around and go back to the place where Jesus was crucified (Lk 24:33). We must go back seven miles (see Lk 24:13) or thousands of miles, if necessary. We must go back to the Church, the Bible (Lk 24:27, 32), and the Eucharist (Lk 24:30-31). If we have stalled in our Christian life, we must go all the way back if we are to go all the way forward as witnesses for the risen Christ.
Prayer: Father, if necessary, put me “back in the shop” so I can soon get out on the road.
Promise: “Immediately the beggar’s feet and ankles became strong; he jumped up, stood for a moment, then began to walk around. He went into the temple with them — walking, jumping about, and praising God.” —Acts 3:7-8
Praise: Alleluia! “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it” (Ps 118:24).
“Do not cling to Me.” —John 20:17
After suffering the severe trauma of seeing her beloved Jesus crucified, Mary Magdalene was ecstatic when the risen Jesus appeared to her on Easter morning. The two things that Mary wanted to do more than anything else were to embrace Jesus and stay with Him. However, the two things that Jesus told her to do were to stop clinging to Him and to go away from Him (Jn 20:17).
You’d think this would be a monumental interior struggle for Mary, given the incredible emotions felt and intense love she had. Yet look what Mary did! She instantly relinquished her deepest desires and joyfully fulfilled Jesus’ commands. She released Jesus and left Him in instant obedience to His command to tell the disciples the good news of His resurrection (Jn 20:18). The Gospel reports no protests from Mary, only her unhesitating obedience.
It’s likely that Mary could yield to Jesus’ will so perfectly because before Jesus commanded her, He addressed Mary by name (Jn 20:16). When we know Jesus loves us in such a personal, intimate way, we are so completely reassured of His personal love for us that all our other desires melt away. All we need is His love.
Are you struggling with something the Lord is asking you to do? Be assured of His risen love for you. If you were the only person on earth, Jesus would still have died and risen just for you. Nothing can separate you from His love (Rm 8:39). Therefore, go and carry His risen, personal love to a lost and hurting world.
Prayer: “Rabbouni!” “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:16, 28)
Promise: “Three thousand were added that day.” —Acts 2:41
Praise: Alleluia! Praise the Risen Jesus, Whose love is more powerful than death!