As we immerse ourselves in the Gospel accounts of that First Day of a new creation, what a shepherd He shows Himself to be. He is out and about offering reassurance to those who were disturbed, disillusioned and disheartened. He was seeking out and searching out those who seemed to be the most lost. We have the example of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He was seeking out Mary in The Garden. Then there was Thomas. He was the disbelieving, unbelieving one, not the doubting one. I believe that in calling him, "doubting Thomas" we give doubting a bad name. Thomas was in real bad shape. He was not with the community. He chose to grieve alone, in private he was doing his grieving. How destructive that was and as it was so it is for us today. Even though we want to grieve alone, it is destructive. Look how unfeeling he had become. Look what he wanted to do to Jesus? Read again what he demanded happen in order for him to believe in the Risen Christ. Was that the request of a compassionate follower or who was in the throes of grieving a loss?
Sunday, April 26, 2020
The Gospel narratives reveal to us how "anxious, shocked, distressed and distraught” the followers of Jesus were, on that first Easter morning. On Friday, their world, as they understood it, had been turned upside down. He, Whom they had followed, and had great expectations of, was not only dead, but His body was not in the tomb. Then, they are told He has risen from the dead, and has even appeared to some the people they knew. What was this all about? It is too much to grasp, to understand. They are afraid confused, bothered, and bewildered. They seem to be, "sheep without a shepherd." With the death of Jesus, who is there now to feed, nourish, guide, and direct them? They are now faced with the feelings of being lost and so alone. As it was with those early followers of Jesus, so it with us today, when we are forced, by life, to encounter death, loss. When they are at their lowest, The Risen Christ appears. Even though He is risen, He has His wounds to show them.
The Risen one carries the wounds of His crucifixion. We must always keep that reality ever before us. The Risen one is also, The Wounded one. So, too with each one of us. When we are wounded, not if we are wounded, and in time experience healing and new life, (our personal death, and resurrection) we must always remember the soul in NEVER cured, it is cared for. When we stop doing the caring, then we will revert back into the experience of the crucifixion. We can compound our mistake, by looking for some poor scapegoat to blame. When we get into the 'blaming game" we are on a slippery slope leading to even more serious pain and sorrow. Now we are going to alienate others, when it is the strength of others, the community, we need. We as human beings will belong to the community of "wounded-wounders,” or belong to the community of wounded-healers." That is a prerequisite for belonging to a Christian community, which is a community of wounded-healers. We are following in the footsteps of our Wounded Good Shepherd.
Friday, April 24, 2020
We are in Easter Time, Paschal Time, and will be for some time to come. We are being immersed ever deeper into The Mystery of the wonder-full, awe-full events that took place 2,000 years ago. As we are drawn into the mystery of the Gospel narratives, we are led to the following understanding. The events we read about, though occurring many years ago, are be lived out by you and I, today. As it was with the historical Jesus, Who became The Risen Christ, so, it is with us who bear the name Christian. To help us with this mystery, we must grasp, understand the following; in the spiritual life there is no time, there is no space. God, in spite of our greatest efforts, cannot be controlled, defined, or confined, to anything we may feel, think or say. We can and do, pay lip service to the fact that, "God's ways are not our ways , and His thoughts are not our thoughts." Let's be very honest here, when it comes down to the real nitty, gritty, we want it our way. How often is God told to hit the road in time of pain-full struggle? When things do not happen the way we expect them to happen, there is a serious, volcanic spiritual eruption. A lot of people in our lives are affected, not for the good, when we do not get our way and our expectations are not met. I have to keep before me, it is right in front of me as I do the dishes, "Expectations are planned resentments." I am not always happy to be reminded of that reality. Even though I repeat it again, and again, I still am blindsided. Joe then, is not a very happy camper. The only thing that I can say is, I am now more ready to laugh at myself than I have ever been. I love the following; "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." I have kept God in great humor over these many years.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Here are some thoughts from Fr. Ronald Rolhheiser's book, "Holy Longing." "The Paschal Mystery is a process of transformation within which we are given both new life and new spirit. It begins with suffering, and death, moves onto the reception of new life, spends some time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally, only after the old life has been truly let go of, is new spirit given for the life we are already living."
Theologically, looking at Jesus' teachings and especially at his death and resurrection and what follows from them, we can see that there are five clear, distinct moments within the paschal cycle: Good Friday, Easter Sunday, the forty days leading up to the Ascension, the Ascension, and Pentecost. Each of these is part of a single process, an organic one, and each needs to be understood in relation to the others to make sense of the paschal mystery. Each is part of one process of transformation, of dying and letting go so, as to receive new life and new spirit.
In caption, the paschal cycle might be diagrammed as follows:
1.Good Friday..."the loss of the life-real death"
2.Easter Sunday..."the reception of new life"
3.The Forty Days..."a time for readjustment to the new and for grieving the old"
4. Ascension..."letting go of the old and letting it bless you, the refusal to cling"
5.Pentecost..."the reception of new spirit for the new life that one is already living"
Put into a more colloquial language and stated as a personal, paschal challenge for each of us, one might recast the diagram this way:
1."Name your death"
2."Claim your births"
3."Grieve what you have lost and adjust to the new reality"
4."Do not cling to the old, let it ascend and give you its blessing"
5."Accept the spirit of the life that you are in fact living"
This cycle is not something that we must undergo just once, at the moment of our deaths, when we lose our earthly lives as we know them. It is rather something we must undergo daily, in every aspect of our lives. Christ spoke of many deaths, of daily deaths, and of many rising and various pentecosts. The Paschal Mystery is the secret to life. Ultimately our happiness depends upon properly undergoing it.
May the peace and joy of the Easter Season be yours, today and all the days of your life as you make your journey through life.
Monday, April 20, 2020
We, also need to remember it is when the disciples are most aware of their failures and shortcomings, they are given the power to forgive sins. I have always said, I would like to go to reconciliation with St. Peter, because he would be the one most aware of his humanity and his vulnerability. From his experience, he would have been given the gifts of compassion, understanding, and empathy. We need to be showered with these gifts. These are the gifts we need to shower on ourselves so, we can enjoy these self same gifts when they are offered to us by our Heavenly Father. "Grace perfects human nature." (St. Thomas Aquinas) It is in and through this experience, we come to believe and know the Risen Christ. It is in the awareness and celebration of these gifts, we come to know the joy of the Risen Christ. We, too can testify, "The Lord is Risen," and His risen life is a life we now share and experience. We will come to believe in the Risen Christ not because we have seen Him, rather, we have experienced His risen presence in our lives. I like what Thomas Keating says, "This, of course, is an important message for us. It tells us that it is far better to relate to the Risen Christ on the basis of pure faith that rests not on appearances, feelings, external evidence or what other people say, but on our personal experience of the Christ-life rising up and manifesting its fruits within us. This is the living faith that empowers us to act under the influence of the Spirit - the same Spirit that Jesus breathed upon the apostles on the evening of His resurrection."