Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.
Head over to her blog to check out all the other Quick takes!
Having had a really “good” Lent, I naturally assumed that Eastertide (which goes for 50 days, compared to Lent’s 40 days) would be one big picnic. Someone forgot to tell my body that. So here I am, no longer needing extra time to rest an injury and get through a mountain of books I undertook to read, and somehow still stuck in the wrong liturgical season by circumstance, not choice. Not a happy camper.
It would seem a very obvious thing that we spend this life being out of sync with our souls, minds and bodies. Those rare occasions when all aspects are spiffy at the same time are rare, and require a peculiarly large divine intervention akin to the stars lining up like they did on Good Friday. The Son of God had this happen… what about me??? Imagine my surprise when Lent ended and I was not instantly healed, with a massive injection of rapturous delight to boot. Imagine my consternation when the liturgical season of joy has not coincided with personal happiness and the absence of suffering. I often say, “There’s no heaven this side of heaven.” Maybe I need to listen to my own advice.
Hence my reflection. If Jesus rose in power from the dead on Easter Sunday, why didn’t He just fix everything, once and for all? Thank God I don’t need to rely on my own limited faculties of reflection to seek a sense of meaning in this. As time has passed and the desire for some instant fix at Easter did not occur, have discovered that things are improving in their own good time and, of course, things are not as bad as I think. I mean, if this was the first Easter the apostles did not have any instant injections of joy on Easter Sunday. This is something that has matured over the 2,000 years of the Church. They were, in fact, worse off in some ways from their perspective. If Jesus had not risen, they would have walked back from Emmaus to resume their ordinary lives and live with the disappointment of following yet another failed prophet. Life would have gone on as it had before with the ordinary trials and challenges of life to deal with. After Easter, however, they were still fearful, and even though Jesus had Risen, there was not yet any Pentecost. They stayed locked away with the doors and windows shut, or went on the occasional night-time fishing trip. This was an unprecedented event and there was no instruction manual for dealing with God-becoming-human-then-rising-from-the-dead. So, why should I be surprised? I am starting to think it is quite a compliment to be having a very “old school” experience of the first Easter. If you are in the same boat, revel in it friend. This too shall pass and it will be Pentecost before you know it.
In honour of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 88th Birthday yesterday, I am going to use these last takes to record some awesome words from this giant of faith. Having recently read his books on Jesus has given me a renewed respect for this man and the gift of his faith to the Church at this time.
When a man says Yes during his priestly ordination, he may have some idea of what his own charism could be, but he also knows: I have placed myself into the hands of the bishop and ultimately of the Lord. I cannot pick and choose what I want. In the end I must allow myself to be led. I had in fact the notion that being a theology professor was my charism, and I was very happy when my idea became a reality. But it was also clear to me: I am always in the Lord’s hands, and I must also be prepared for things that I do not want. In this sense it was certainly surprising suddenly to be snatched away and no longer to be able to follow my own path. But as I said, the fundamental Yes also contained the thought that I remain at the Lord’s disposal and perhaps will also have to do things someday that I myself would not like. Pope Benedict XVI (p.6)
Ultimately it comes down to the alternative: What came first? Creative Reason, the Creator Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, strangely enough brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason. The latter, however, would then be nothing more than a chance result of evolution and thus, in the end, equally meaningless. As Christians, we say: I believe in God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in the Creator Spirit. We believe that at the beginning of everything is the eternal Word, with Reason and not Unreason. Pope Benedict XVI. (back cover)
From Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (God is Love)
The real novelty of the New Testament lies not so much in new ideas as in the figure of Christ himself, who gives flesh and blood to those concepts—an unprecedented realism. In the Old Testament, the novelty of the Bible did not consist merely in abstract notions but in God’s unpredictable and in some sense unprecedented activity. This divine activity now takes on dramatic form when, in Jesus Christ, it is God himself who goes in search of the “stray sheep”, a suffering and lost humanity. When Jesus speaks in his parables of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words: they constitute an explanation of his very being and activity. His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form. By contemplating the pierced side of Christ (cf. 19:37), we can understand the starting-point of this Encyclical Letter: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move. (Deus Caritas Est, 12)
The purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God’s joy which longs to break into the world.
Have a great week everyone!