Today we who would be followers or disciples of Jesus celebrate his Resurrection. I just got a note from someone saying “I know what Easter means to you as a priest”. Honestly I don’t know what it means to me as a priest. I believe firmly in the Resurrection, although probably not in the accepted wording of established dogmas. I think it means more, though I don’t know what. I have a good idea what it means in the big scheme of things, that Jesus offers us new life now and after our death. I don’t know what it means for me in my little corner of the cosmos.
I agree wholeheartedly with Pope Francis that Jesus suffers in the people around us — children murdered in their classrooms, people becoming used to living in war, parents trying to find a better and safer life for their children, homeless people, young people wondering how and if they can go on living simply because some other people don’t like who they feel they are or love, soldiers going into to war, people fighting for their country against an unjust aggressor, and much more. If they believe, and not everybody does, how can they celebrate? Many people suffer from political corruption, politically imposed violence. I don’t know any of them personally that I am aware of, but I know enough to be convinced that these things happen.
From the Opening Prayer of the Easter, “This is the morning on which the Lord appeared to people who had begun to lose hope”. Been there a lot, and it’s not nice. No doubt there are many of these people around me today. Do I know any? Not sure. So, what is the Story saying to me?
I will celebrate Easter nicely and safely. This morning I blessed food baskets, something I really enjoy. This evening I will share a glass of wine with some residents where I live. Tomorrow I will celebrate Mass in a nicely decorated church with bells and good music, and folks that I know. Afterwards I’m inviting some friends to our Easter buffet. It will be a nice Easter weekend. Christ is risen, and that means there is always hope — that evil will not have the last word. But does that mean I am being called to do something to help make sure that is what happens? And, so . . .?
But that’s me, not everybody. Not migrants huddled in camps and border crossings around our country and in many places throughout the world, or the homeless, the trafficked, the runaway kids on the road. How can they celebrate? Would they celebrate? What about believing folks caring for aging and ill parents? What does the Story say to them? Am I missing something right in front of me? Is the Gospel Story calling me to do anything here and now?
I’m a little past the age where I can make things happen. I’m very aware that I’m playing the “back nine” and enjoying it. I have time to think and muse, which seems to be happening here, something I’ve not had much of before, especially while in uniform. I can’t “work the streets” anymore, go where the action is or will be, serve as a police chaplain, or be with soldiers (a wonderful experience). I no longer am called to offer pastoral care with good people serving in dangerous places. I do not have occasion to go into the inner-city and walk, or to look for homeless or trafficked people, or seek out despairing teens and young folks. I do not have a parish or community that I can share the journey with. If anything, I am a circuit rider helping out wherever I am asked. I especially love calls to the hospital. Yet God has never been so real in my life as God is now with all this stuff. I suspect I may not be the only priest in this sort of situation.
In general, my prayer is twofold: “Lord, I want to see”, and “How can I help you live our Father’s love in whatever is going on?”. I have a sense of being on a journey. To where, I don’t know, and I’m ok with that. So, is the Gospel calling me to see and help live our Father’s love with folks I’m not aware of — yet? I don’t know, but I believe this might be happening, perhaps in these rambling musings. Grace is real. Just sayin . . .