Happy Second Sunday of Easter! As Jesus says to his disciples in today’s Gospel passage, “Peace, be with you,” I extend to you the same greeting. Midway through the Gospel, Jesus breathes on the disciples, gifts them with the Holy Spirit, and says, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” What precious gifts he has given them: the gift of his presence as Risen Lord, the gift of peace, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the power to forgive sins. We, too, have been gifted with those same things. I know that we don’t have the authority to forgive sins sacramentally in Christ’s name as priests do, but we do have the responsibility as followers of Christ to forgive others at all times. When we fail to forgive, we hold another bound, not to mention our own selves. If we have been wronged and have failed to forgive another, we are not at peace. Granted, forgiveness is difficult, and one may struggle awhile before being able to extend forgiveness. However, when we realize how much God has forgiven us, and when we make the prayers we say “take on flesh,” we have no other option than to forgive. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I am writing to you Tuesday (April 3) from Chicago where I am attending the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. I thought I had dutifully sent my column to Alex on Holy Thursday only to find out via email from her this afternoon that I had attached the wrong file; I attached Easter Sunday. And, of course, I do not have my April 8 article with me, so I am trying to remember some of what I wrote.
General Chapter was one of the topics I included in the article. Chapter is the official governing body of the Congregation and takes place every five years. Delegates from the Congregation gather for a week of meetings involving various reports, reflections on our vowed life, conversations and decisions about what direction we want to take the next five years, assessment of how we have been living out the Generous Promises we made since merging seven Congregations (in 2007), and the election of new leadership for the community. This is our third General Chapter. This year is unique in that there will be no carry over from the previous leadership team. (Just an interesting note: the Mercy Sisters are also in Chapter this week in Chicago not far from where we are meeting). See you next weekend!
Blessings on your Easter Season!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ