16 April 2014
For Christians, this week concludes a time of prayer, penance, and almsgiving (the period called Lent). This week, called Holy Week, is of special significance to all Christians because it is the time that we celebrate and commemorate the saving action that our Lord took for our lives. In today's age that may seem an unlikely event or happening, but it is very important to the world. After the historical event of Jesus' death and resurrection , the lives of a few people were so radically changed that they continued a movement so strong that it lasts to this day, some 2000 years later. Peoples' lives have been radically changed by this movement, because it is based upon an unshakable truth and reality - the Truth and Reality of God. Today, many people belittle this concept as being the imagination of weak men's frightened minds. But, something very significant happened 2000 years ago, and the world has not been the same since. Yes, the naysayers will point out all of the division, animosity, and, violence committed in the "name of God", but I suggest those activities are NOT the result of a proper understanding of the message of Jesus. He talked about love and grace and forgiveness, not hate. He showed us how to interact with all sorts of people to produce a better world; and there have been many witnesses to these qualities throughout the centuries, e.g., Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa, John Paul II, Martin Luther King, to name a few. Mankind has had a really hard time understanding this important concept. However, our current Pope Francis, once again, reminds us of the importance of that message each time he speaks or acts. So, as we approach the time called Easter, put aside the concerns with chocolate eggs and bunnies and look toward the message of the Church - that salvation is real and for each of us. If you are Catholic, go to the Holy Week services, the Triduum, and renew your commitment to this caring, grace-filled faith. If you have ever identified with the Catholic Church, take a long look at why you are no longer active, listen to the message of grace and forgiveness proffered by Pope Francis, and talk and pray about your situation with someone you trust; you are invited to return to the table. If you are a non-Catholic Christian, take the time to renew your commitment to the selfless service to others that Christ calls us to do. If you are Jewish, renew your understanding of the meaning of Passover, which begins this week, and heed the Commandments of Moses. If you believe in another faith, look at the "other" aspect of its tenets and recommit yourself to the service of others. If you are not a believer in any faith, or of the very popular secular humanism that pervades our country today, ask yourself if this seeking of power, wealth, status, and collection of things has really been all that satisfying. Ask yourself is "doing what feels right" really working. Ask yourself is your life really all that fulfilling. Ask yourself if this is really what you want. There is another way! Why not try serving someones else's needs today and see how that feels? For all of us, this is a week to think about how different our lives would be if we thought of others first and tended to the poorest of our community before regaling ourselves in fancy Easter dress and traditions. No matter what you have done, forgiveness is offered and reconciliation is possible. Jesus' actions over 2000 years ago and God's response shows us that there is a better way to live our lives; there is a better way to relate to each other; there is a joy to be had by being "other" directed and especially caring for the poorest and least fortunate in our midst. When we really believe that loving God and expressing that love through our service to others, we can change our world. When we do this, we really understand the meaning of Easter and can experience that same radical conversion that those folks had many years ago. What they learned is that life is about relationships: with God and with each other. Think about it. No, really stop and think about it. Now, go visit a Church and become a part of a different sort of Easter Parade this year - one that will change your life and that of others. May God Give You Peace!