April 23, 2017
Happy Easter! As Augustine says: We are risen people and ‘Alleluia!’ is our song.
It is a strange fact but true that we keep forgetting about Easter --- not the one just passed, but The Easter that established Jesus of Nazareth as our living and present Lord. No matter how important that event and that person, the day-by-day and the non-Jesus elements of reality have a really insidious way of taking over our consciousness and our values. The result is that we begin to think of ourselves as anything but ‘risen’ and our song becomes a whine and the folks who have never heard of or celebrated Easter wonder where we go – and why -- on that first nice spring morning every year.
Worse than anything, this forgetfulness transforms our Christianity from being a joyous encounter with the Risen Lord into a rigid code of practices and dogmas that are clearly irrelevant to ‘the modern world and its complexities’. Sacraments become rituals with only the meaning and only the importance that we give to them. The Church is turned into an optional grouping best understood as a sociological or economic or political ‘sample’ rather than a vital community of people with a gift to give to the world.
You see, there is actually every reason to think that we might meet Jesus on the streets of Manchester. There is certainly every reason to think that he knows and sympathizes with everything we go through and put up with. And there is every certainty that, even when we forget him, he does not forget us.
This is particularly important for us this year. At a meeting on Monday in Holy Week, we voted to discontinue the celebration of Mass in Arlington, to close up the church there and to sell the property. A shortsighted ‘sociological’ view of this decision would lead us to think of this as a failure of the Church or the Catholics of the community. In fact, in the light of Easter, this change is only a new opportunity, calling for a new initiative in living the Christian life in a new time.
Think of Easter as spreading a tent. The risen Lord ‘stakes out’ the very edges of the universe and calls all of it his home. The ‘wider’ we spread out our ‘tent’ the more we will all benefit from the vitality creativity that occur in those ‘far’ corners that we never knew were corners of our parish.
The pre-Easter Jesus was doomed to die. Set free from the straitened situation of life in first century Palestine, he is able to wander ‘footloose in the universe’. Our case is not different. No matter how glorious our pasts may be, they are past; ‘live’ only because we continue to inhabit them with our new lives. But new circumstances bring new life and we, new in those circumstances, bring new life with us.
The light of Easter changes everything! The light of Easter changes us, too. Christ is risen, rise we, too!
Really and truly and ‘up-ily’ yours,