Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Paschal Paradox

Can you sing "Alleluia!" through tears of agony?

If it's possible, then that's what the people of Kenya are doing this Easter.  So are the people of Syria, Iraq, the DRC… and far too many corners of our world.  This thought weighs heavy on my heart this Easter evening as the "Alleluias" of my own Paschal celebration are still fresh on my lips.

It is a truly a paradox, this faith we profess.  Even as we proclaim that love has triumphed over hate, wars are raging.  Even as life emerges from death this day, people are dying.  We sing joyfully of Resurrection in a world that is still full of crucifixions.

Are we just naive?  Ignorant?  Out of touch with reality?

I think not.  Our Gospel readings these days tell us that the Resurrection didn't seem like clear-cut joy at the beginning, either.  As they struggled to understand what had happened, the early disciples experienced not only joy, but also fear, confusion, and disbelief.  What was a mystery to them is still a mystery to us.

Pope Francis, in his Easter Vigil homily, spoke of this:

We cannot live Easter without entering into the mystery.  It is not something intellectual, something we only know or read about… It is more, much more!
“To enter into the mystery” means the ability to wonder, to contemplate; the ability to listen to the silence and to hear the tiny whisper amid great silence by which God speaks to us (cf 1 Kings 19:12).
To enter into the mystery demands that we not be afraid of reality: that we not be locked into ourselves, that we not flee from what we fail to understand, that we not close our eyes to problems or deny them, that we not dismiss our questions…
The women who were Jesus’ disciples teach us all of this.  They kept watch that night, together with Mary. And she, the Virgin Mother, helped them not to lose faith and hope.  As a result, they did not remain prisoners of fear and sadness, but at the first light of dawn they went out carrying their ointments, their hearts anointed with love.  They went forth and found the tomb open.  And they went in.  They had kept watch, they went forth and they entered into the Mystery.  May we learn from them to keep watch with God and with Mary our Mother, so that we too may enter into the Mystery which leads from death to life.

So I pray that our Easter rejoicing brings us closer to our hurting brothers and sisters.  I pray that we do not run from that which we do not understand, nor that we run to easy answers.  Instead, let us extend our hearts and our prayers to those for whom "Alleluia" is not such an easy word right now.  Let us keep watch with them.  Let our joy be a cushion within which to hold their pain.  

And in the face of death, division, and pain, let us proclaim an alternative.
Let us sing even more boldly: 
Christ is risen! 
Love has triumphed!

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