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On the day I left the parish in New Jersey to come to Boston many years ago, the parishioners came to say goodbye. There were many tears that day. Some of them were theirs, and some were mine. About two years later, I was invited back to the parish to give a talk. I was looking forward to seeing everyone, thinking they would be happy to see me. Well, that did not exactly happen. The reason was my replacement. When I saw everyone there, they told me, “We love your replacement. He is so wonderful. He has a great sense of humor, he has very short homilies. And he loves to be spoiled. I turned to Fr. Jim, and I asked him, “What do they mean by “spoil.” He just smiled. I said, “I thought so; I want my job back.”

Did you ever wonder why Jesus never worked after he rose from the dead? No more long discourses to the crowds, no more healings, no multiplication of the loaves, or confrontations with the religious leaders. I find that very strange. All I would want is for Jesus to work just one day after his resurrection. He could appear before Pilate and say, “Do you remember me?” Think how powerful that would have been. He could have appeared to a large crowd and showed his hands and feet. Imagine the impact that would have had. Jesus would be able to do more in one day than all the Apostles could do in a hundred years. Jesus did not work after His resurrection because He gave us His wonderful Job. He wanted us to have a turn to bring peace, forgiveness, and mercy to the world. He wanted us to turn the world upside down.

When I arrived at the neonatal intensive care unit, I went to the nursing station and asked, “You called me?” She said, “Mom and Dad want to see you. They are in the waiting room.”  I poked my head through the door and saw a couple dressed like bikers. They wore dark brown leather pants and jackets. Dad was sporting a “ZZ Top” beard. I asked, “Are you looking for the priest?” They stood and said, “Yes, could you baptize our baby.” They were among the nicest people. We went into the NICU unit, and the baby had tubes and wires all over her body. After the baptism and spending time with the parents, the doctor walked me out. He said that we do not expect the baby to survive the night. I said, “If they need any support, please call me.” I didn’t get a call.

A week later, I was at the same hospital for a different patient. As I was going through the main lobby, I recognized the father in the distance with his leather jacket and beard. I waved to him. He ran over to me and said we have been looking for you all week. My wife wants to see you. Her back was turned toward us as we approached. When she turned around to face us, she was holding a baby. I was momentarily bewildered. She said, “Right after you left, just after the baptism our little girl started to improve. I wanted you to know that today we are taking her home.” As they walked out the door, I said to God, “Lord, I love your job.” I am a good replacement. And that is the point of Easter. We are all good replacements. This is our time, our moment to show the world how great God is. Enjoy the Job. 

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