March 31, Easter

This Easter Story is familiar to all of us. It is a Story of happiness and hope that we process in our life with our family traditions and our own feelings in whatever is going on in our life when we recall it. The Resurrection is not just something that happened long ago and gives us hope for the next life. It offers insight to our life here and now. For me there is little doubt that my experience in the car as my heart attack was happening has been having a significant impact on my life, an ongoing experience for which I am most grateful. It was real then, and it is real now. What we know as heaven or the next life is not far away, but very close, not a place but a different mode of being — the same, only different. The “veil” is a lot thinner than we would imagine. Our next step is a continuation of how we are living in our here and now.

In the story of Jesus’ suffering and death the men don’t do too well. They pretty much desert him, while the women stay by him through it all. Maybe something to think about. In the past several months I have met a number of strong women who have had, and are still having, a big impact on me, and I am most grateful. In the Story some women, including Mary Magdalene, come to the tomb the next day and find it empty. Mary tells the men who go to tell the others. She stays behind, and so is the first to encounter the risen Lord. At first she doesn’t recognize him. After they talk a while she does — he is the same, only different. Later, in the evening of the first day, a married couple, Mary and Cleophas, are walking to Emmaus, a town not too far away. Jesus joins them walking and talking with them for a while, finally staying with them for supper. Then they recognize him — he is the same, only different.

Jesus is not who I would think he is. He is much more, an ongoing experience beyond thinking, always the same Jesus, only different, as I come to know him ever more deeply. While I believe the doctrines, I learn a lot more through my own deaths and resurrections, even my own hell. This seems to be a cycle of life: I face hard times, wonder and argue, finally have to let go of them, a sort of a death, and come through it all to recognize the same Jesus, only different. I am growing. I can choose not to pay attention or take part in all this. For many of us our idea of Jesus is pretty much the same as we learned for our First Communion. This reminds me I need to be alert, to want to recognize Jesus however he is in my life now, which is always changing as I grow, rather than keep him in a place where I am conformable with him and he won’t ask too much of me.  

Everything in my life belongs, even the broken parts, the failures, the suffering. It’s all one. Don’t know how else to say it. God doesn’t fix things for me or protect me from much, but is with me in everything, and when I continue to know Jesus in different ways, I begin to realize this. The problems, the challenges, I face belong. The usual way to deal with them is to blame someone else. That way I don’t have to take any responsibility for what is going on, and I don’t have to go through the painful process of growing and facing myself. The happenings in my life are always saying something to me, if I’m open and willing to hear. This is another work of the Spirit. Like everyone else I am filled with contradictions that I learn to live with in various ways. As I do this, if I am willing and open, I come to know Jesus in my life is much more than I would expect. And I come to know myself, perhaps as Jesus knows me. Each of us is flawed and lovable. Each of us has a shadow that, until and unless we recognize it, will have a lot of control in our living. Something I need to work on, perhaps make friends with my shadow. Certainly more openness to folks and a lot less judging, and maybe even recognizing Jesus in them — the same, only different.

Jesus doesn’t teach a plan for getting to heaven later, or create a system for elite and the “holy”, or offer a series of questions and answers. He simply invites people to live as he lived, to follow him through life and death to resurrection. Religions point beyond themselves with their own version of Jesus’ message. Each has a part of the whole message. Institutional religions are a necessary start, but are weak and flawed in many areas. Each in its own way points to God. We go where they point us, and maybe even let go of some of what they ask, moving to where we feel the Spirit is leading us. In its own way this may very well add to our suffering since religious systems like to control their people and don’t take kindly to being ignored or questioned. The Story offers hope to our brothers and sisters who are treated badly simply for how they see themselves or whom they love. There is hope, and, as the Story shows, we bring this hope to others as we live it ourselves in faith, and with courage, coming to know the Risen Lord happening in our life.

Jesus’ living, suffering, dying, and rising, shows me a pattern in my life, a constant suffering, dying, rising. Spirituality is a path of letting go and transformation, saying yes to what is in my life, and growing, if I am open and willing. Or I can choose just to stay where I’ve always been, trying to please a distant God rather than coming to know a God who is with me intimately in everything, an ongoing partnership. It seems we are in each other. It is more a matter of questioning than of having answers. Answers help me feel safe and secure, while questioning leads me to what is unknown and maybe fearful, causing me to let go of what I have felt safe with. This brings me to a graced awareness of suffering, dying, rising, and maybe coming to a different understanding of safe. Mary Magdalene offers to show me the Risen Christ is many new ways — the same, only different. Mary of Cleophas tells me to just keep walking through life and I will recognize Jesus — the same, only different. Everything belongs, and it is all one — the same, only different. Just sayin  .  .  .

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Mary Benton

    Thanks, Jim. Some good reflections here. The “same but different” reminded me of something I had written in my own blog some years ago. I looked back for it and discovered it was 9 years ago (“The Risen Lord”)!. I am often surprised when my own writing teaches me something, as it did tonight; a good reminder that I am more a secretary than an author.

    He had to be the same, because we had to know that it really was Jesus, not an imposter. Yet He had to be different, lest we think He had just returned to THIS life, which would be no salvation at all. So He “revealed” Himself in the new, fully human body, alive with the New Life. We are thus given a vision of who we truly are, once we let go completely and allow His mercy to wash over and transform us. Why is it so hard to remember this? Why is it so hard to do?

    Anyway, I enjoyed meeting you on Holy Thursday. A Blessed Easter season to you.

  2. Jim Jakubowski

    Wonderful insights Father Jim. Thank you and may you continue to have a wonderful Easter week.

  3. MB

    “God doesn’t fix things for me or protect me from much, but is with me in everything,” this is the part that jumped out at me on Sunday

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