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He Lives

So, they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”   (John 6:28-29)

On Easter Sunday, I woke up with a hymn running through my head. In itself, that would not be very unusual, because I’ve always loved all kinds of “church music.” My husband and I sang in our church choir for many, many years which meant singing for the Easter Vigil and for all the services of Holy Week. There was always lots of new music to learn, but the song in my head on Easter morning was not a new one. In fact, it was one I learned when I sang in a children’s choir more than 50 years ago. I remembered all the words:

“I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him He’s always near

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives, He lives, Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart.”

Jesus lives in all His followers. The song says it so well: He lives within my heart. Wishing I could go back to sleep, I began to think about the women who taught me that song and about all the Sunday school teachers I’d known and the pastors and the choir directors and the youth-group leaders. Along with my parents, they were able to share their faith with me because they carried Jesus in their hearts. They understood what Jesus taught in John 6:29 when He said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” Their belief in the risen Christ was a powerful force in their lives which led them to serve His church wholeheartedly.

I am a convert to the Catholic Church, and recently, I had a long talk with a good friend who belongs to the denomination that I grew up in. She surprised me when she said, “We don’t pray for the dead.” I had never really thought about it before, because praying for the dead is so fundamental for Catholics. Was she saying that all those wonderful people I knew in my childhood, the ones who prayed for me and taught me to love Jesus and to sing His praises, had no one praying for them now?

That question had a strong emotional impact on me as I prepared for Easter Mass. After all, Jesus lives in me in much the same way that He lived in them. It’s the Communion of Saints, and it bridges the gap between time and eternity. At Mass when I thought of how our celebration was a sharing in the glorious eternal banquet of Heaven and how Christ was present with all His angels and saints, I prayed that all those who had taught me to seek Him with my whole heart would be blessed with the fullness of peace and joy in His Presence forever. And I thanked Him for their witness. “You ask me how I know he lives; He lives within my heart!” To God be the Glory. Alleluia.

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