We have been preparing for the renewal of our baptismal commitment for the past forty days. These past few days we have been celebrating the renewal of God’s life-giving commitment to humanity. We can prepare to celebrate Christ’s rising by trying to imagine a world without a solar warmth and light to give us life. In the dark of night we trust that the sun will return and we will, by its light, be enabled to see both the sun and the creation around us and also something of ourselves.
Jesus rose in some mysterious manner. The real joy of this liturgy and season is the belief that He raised others from their darkness about life and especially about themselves. We can rejoice that like the sun, the Son has risen to raise our minds and hearts for lives of loving. By that Light we can look around and within, in a spirit of hope and joy. His Resurrection is the beginning of our own.
In our First Reading today we hear an address given by Peter to an unusual assembly. Cornelius is a leader of a Roman guard, but he is God-fearing and respectful of the Jewish traditions. He has had some kind of vision and has called Peter to interpret it. What we hear will result, later in the chapter, is the baptism of the Jews who accompanied Peter as well as Cornelius and his family.
The Gospel is quite familiar. Day is breaking; the sun is just about to rise. Jesus has risen and is about to begin shining on His believers. Mary Magdala, Peter and John will have some vision problems. Believing is more than seeing, touching, grasping. Peter and John did not see Jesus, but saw enough to believe. Mary did not see Jesus either and her love for Jesus would result in her being the first to whom Jesus, in Scripture, appeared. From the very beginning, believing was a way of seeing. Jesus was beginning the process of introducing them all to the unexplainable.
It seems the annual recelebration of national as well as religious holidays can easily blur the event or person being celebrated. This past week the person and life of St. Patrick was dimmed by excessive alcohol, and even by some Irish folks. Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day get lost in history’s hallways by many. Christmas and Hanukah can often default to being for the children, because the historical and spiritual realities which lie at the heart of these feasts can be too much to believe and receive.
A young mother told me recently that her four-year old son asked her about the rabbit who brought the colored eggs at Easter. She sang him the song about Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny-trail. He thought a little while and asked, “Where is the bunny-trail?” “Why” and “where” and “How come” are such familiar questions from the minds of the young. Having answers is the joy of the elders, if they know the answers. If they don’t, well, then they make up some good ones.
Almost each month has at least one day celebrating a person or event. Because we do not know much about St. Valentine we make up a celebration of candy, flowers, and cards. It is indeed lovely. Do we really celebrate our national independence on The Fourth? Why is there a Labor Day? What is the real meaning of Halloween and the true meaning of Thanksgiving? When we forget or do not like the real meanings of these days, our national dependence upon easy answers resolves into the lowest of common nominators. We just twist it around and give it a new name or different meaning.
Today a portion of the Christian community celebrates a mind-blocking,
but soul-freeing mystery. A historical figure in whom a small group
of people trusted as a leader, but who died, came back to life!
Jesus of Nazareth, who came out of the womb now has come forth from
the tomb. He was a walking-talking invitation to a new way of looking
at life. He came not to solve the human experience, but to save
the human experience from being fooled by easy answers.
So is Easter reduced to bunnies and flowers to avoid a mystery or a celebration of something just foolish enough to be real? Maybe religious believing is as soft and sweet as the inside of a chocolate Easter Egg. I find debunking skepticism attractive, but as unnourishing as those same addictive delights. The Resurrection of Jesus is a bit of an insult to my mind, but a comfort to my spirit which fears abandonment. Jesus was raised, not as a reward for a good life well spent, but to untomb His sisters and brothers. If it is too embarrassing, too humbling to admit that we needed personal and universal “untombing” then any reason to celebrate in early spring is a convenient avoidance of the question about “Why?”.
Now, where is that bunny-trail any way?
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” Ps. 118
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook