Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bathed in Light: Easter Meditations-2

The Race in Seeking Christ
The snows, as we begin this 3rd week of Holy Easter, seem finally to have stopped. Indeed going out late yesterday evening I even saw and heard a large, healthy, singing tirelessly, robin high in a spruce tree!
Now in the late afternoon the sun has broken through and brightness bathes the city!
Yet, across the world from Virginia Tech to Iraq, from Darfur to the very streets of this city the culture of death flows like an unending river of darkness, blood, chaos, insanity, evil, seeking to perpetuate the original lie which seduced Adam and Eve, that God is not to be trusted – yet the Person-Truth Himself had us all cry out during the Easter Vigil: “O felix culpa......O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam which gained for us such a Redeemer!”
It is the very same Risen Redeemer Christ who beckons us from the ocean of struggle and search, to the beach of rest, where He awaits us in a type of divine hunger expressed in His threefold, urgent yet tender plea: “Do you love Me?” [ cf. Jn.21:15-19].
And we, seeing what He had prepared, presumed we alone were the ones hungering!
While correctly seen in the first instance as directed to Peter, and after Peter’s ever more affirmative response, Christ mandating Peter as Supreme Pastor, in the second instance this is the Light Himself bathing us once more in His brightness, asking each of us: “Was it worth it the horror and death I endured for you? Was it worth it little one? Do you love Me more than these people, ideas, plans, needs in which you are enmeshed? Do you love Me? Do you love me?”
I had noted at the end of the first meditation in this series that I would reflect in this one on the gift of freedom flowing from the brightness of Easter.
Events of the past two weeks, some personal, some involving family, some the larger human family, have made such a reflection somewhat, I admit, of a challenge.
Yet thanks to a woman who came up to me in the middle of the crowded dining room of the soup kitchen where I volunteer, {post the horror of Virginia Tech, post the not unexpected suffering of John and Lucille in their marriage, post the middle of the night plea from a seminarian in Brazil for special prayer }, she, one of the battered, overweight, multi-addicted homeless women asked me an oft repeated question about her ersatz marriage to a rather odd homeless man.
Jesus on the beach, Jesus beckoning!
When, as I always do, I reassured her all was well with her , she grabbed me like a mother holding her child, like Magdalene at the tomb rejoicing at hearing the Bright Risen One call her by name.
Suddenly the tears and terror were gone and the woman repeated over and over; “Thank-you Father, thank-you Father!”
The beauty of her face in that moment was as if never in her life had she ever been betrayed, abused, lost her innocence.
Her very ragged, filthy, far too thin for this time of year coat, her soiled jeans, torn boots, already wet from snow and rain – well it was as if she was suddenly clothed with light!
“Do you love Me? – when I am frail, battered, scared, confused, addicted and filthy?”
When I was a boy and my Father rarely at home, my Mother would just be overwhelmed by the antics of myself and my multiple siblings, she would just walk away.
I, all less than six years of me the first time, would be left in loco parentis.
So when John and Lucille hit a rather severe bump in the road and all I could/should rightly do was silently pray, even though it felt as if I were that abandoned child once more– a far too wee shepherd of a flock!
“Do you love me? – when I seem to abandon you and leave you with more than you can cope with?”
In his homily on his birthday last Monday Pope Benedict stated very clearly the truth it is indeed mercy that puts an end to evil – mercy being clearly in the first instance that life-gift God bestows on us.
We are in His image and baptized to be imitators of Christ.
Mercy, the restorative life-giving-love-giving gift, is the food we are to feed the poor, the broken, the guilty, to our enemies, to those who hurt us.
If we do love Him then this becomes our inalienable love-duty-free joy towards other.
“Do you love Me? – when I am disguised as a crazed killer, an abortionist, terrorist, or just someone who, when your need for comfort is greatest, ignore you?”
The phrase “the race in seeking Christ” I have borrowed from another talk of Pope Benedict’s, from the General Audience of the 15th where the Holy Father confidently asserts that is the only competition the Fathers deem worthy of us, the race to get to Christ.
Following on that the Pope further assures us the One who has found us, bathes us in His Brightness, “....He Himself will come to meet us; He will make us recognize Him, He will call us by name, He will bring us into the intimacy of His love.”
When He comes to meet us, on the beach as in today’s Gospel, in the mystery of another’s pain or in the depths of our own anguish, when He enables us to recognize Him in the face of another, enemy or friend, beloved or one seemingly as yet a stranger, in whatever circumstance, in whatever disguise He comes, He will/does call us by name and in the calling asks: “Do you love Me?”
In a sense the newborn Infant Holy Child cannot bring us, if that was the extent of His Incarnate life, to complete union with God; likewise the crucified Christ, if everything stopped at the 9th hour with the last beat of His Heart, cannot bring us to God – for evil would have vanquished holiness, darkness would have overcome light, death would have conquered life, hatred supplanted love, despair become the emptiness of every human heart, indeed there would be no real persons left for the image of God, broken by original sin, shattered into tiny pieces by our own sins, would have remained forever scattered about the cosmos, drifting into an endless abyss of nothingness.
Prisoners of fate, slaves trapped in an incomprehensible vortex of evolutionary caprice, why would any ‘human’ creature seek anything but self, self-satisfaction, self-worship?
Just as we cannot self-create ourselves neither can we bond ourselves in oneness with the Holy Trinity – our arms are too short for such a reach, our hearts too little for such an ocean of love-fire, our imaginations too cluttered for such exquisite silence!
The stupendous truth, brightness, joy, Good News of Easter is that CHRIST IS RISEN!
It is the Risen Christ, whose holiness reduces evil to impotence, whose brightness disperses darkness with the Light He is and the Light can never be overcome; it is the Risen Christ who with His own self-gift-life embracing death crushes death’s power to end anything at all; it is the Risen Beloved and Lover whose passionate merciful, bright love waters the desert of hatred with the living water of true life and especially in the Holy Eucharist Love Himself fills our hearts with Divine Trinitarian union, bonding us to God in the ocean of love, “ pressed down and overflowing!”
Christ Risen has freed us.
We are free in the brightness of His Glory, bathed in the light, His light, His Self.
It is the freedom of the children of God.
“Do you love Me who has freed you? – will you go and love Me in all your brothers and sisters who have not yet heard they are free, they are loved?”
“Do you love Me?”

1 comment:

~pen~ said...

so very overdue, hearing a word of wisdom from you, gentle Fr.! i am beyond thrilled to see you and your words resonate, as per the norm...

if you don't mind, i would like to refer to it on my blog.

peace be with you :)