Resurrection Easter Sunday 4-1-2018

April 1st, 2018

In one family, it is a Good Friday. A job has been lost, a career derailed. A serious illness has been diagnosed. A once-loving relationship has unraveled. But the other members of the family put aside their own lives and come together at the foot of their loved one’s cross. Their love moves whatever mountain necessary, changes the course of whatever river is in their way. Together, Mom and Dad and Sister and Brother, Step Parent, Single Parent, and Grandparent bear one another’s crosses to bring hope, healing, forgiveness — and resurrection — to every aspect of their life together as a family. The love of our families can transform tragic and desperate Good Fridays into Easter hope.
In this classroom, it is a Good Friday. The numbers and diagrams in the algebra text are a maze to the student. She is lost and frustrated and discouraged and wants to quit. A tired, overworked teacher just wants to go home after a long week; but, seeing her student’s frustration, she takes off her coat, puts down her pile of books and papers, and patiently walks through the problems with the befuddled student. After a lot of hard work and patience, the “lights come on.” A teacher’s selfless caring and generous gift of time transform this student’s Good Friday into Easter light.
At corporate, it is Good Friday. A single mother has lost all of her vacation and leave time to care for her seriously ill child. She is about to lose her job – and the important medical benefits critical to her family’s survival. Her co-workers devise a plan to pool some of their vacation time and cover her responsibilities so that she can keep her job and benefits while caring for her son. A Good Friday of desperation is transformed into an Easter of possibility.
If we are honest, all of us sometimes find ourselves stuck in a Good Friday world – our problems batter us, overwhelm us, strain our ability to cope and make it all work. Our Alleluias are tempered by reality; we approach this Easter Day with “Christ is risen, BUT…” But in raising his son from the dead, God affirms the Goodnews of his Christ: that good can conquer evil, that love can transform hatred, that light can shatter the darkness. We need to remember and remember it well, the story of Jesus whether told in the Bible or on a movie screen does not end in the cold hopelessness of the cross but reaches ultimate fulfillment in the Resurrection. Easter calls us to embrace the Risen One’s compassion and openness of heart and spirit, enabling us to transform the Good Fridays of our lives into Easter mornings.
This Easter morning I close with a challenge for all of us!
Some years ago, I was in Rome on Palm Sunday with the youth from our Diocese for World Youth Day. We all had the opportunity to hear Mother Theresa of Calcutta speak.
I remember well what she said:
“Death has not put a stop to the mission of Jesus. His mission is to be carried on through us. Living witnesses of his presence.” The challenge, to be Easter People — not just today, but everyday. People whose lives not just their mouths (in church) radiate (not perfectly but as best we can) the hope — the joy – the presence of Jesus risen and alive – right here — right now.
Let us stand and re commit ourselves to Being Easter People everyday!

Palm Sunday Reflection 3-25-2018

March 25th, 2018

What does it mean, this good, kind loving young man,-barely in his thirties- dying for no crime at all. What does it mean and what is it for?
What it means is that God loves us so much that God will withhold from us absolutely nothing – not even God’s own dear Son. What it means is that no matter what, God will always be there for us, with All God’s love and power, comfort and grace.
There are no limits to God’s commitment to us, none at all. Through this terrible moment in Jesus’ life. God’s saying, “You can count on me. I’ll never desert you, and there’s nothing I won’t give you, not even my Son.”
This Passion Sunday is, in one way, a very sad day. Walking with Jesus on this day can break your heart. But it’s also the brightest of days, because it tells how very much we are loved, and because it reminds us who view it from the vantage point of the resurrection that, despite all appearances, failure, death, rejection, ALL WILL BE WELL!

The Raising of Lazarus 3-18-2018

March 18th, 2018

Let’s allow our imaginations to create a Hollywood version of the raising of Lazarus.
Picture it: Lazarus comes out of his tomb-bound up, mummy-like, wrapped tightly in burial garments.
See those tight wrappings around his body? Even as he comes forth to Jesus, they restrict his sight, speech and freedom of movement.
Listen carefully to the words of Jesus. “Untie him and let him go free.”
I believe Lazarus coming out of the tomb represents every person!
What is it in our lives that binds us up? At times ties us up, immobilizes us, limits our perception, and gets in the way of us reaching out to others and to God?
Is it an attitude or possibly our own fears that restrict us? Maybe it is a prejudice toward a particular group of people? Perhaps it is something that worries us? Something we did in the past that we are ashamed of? Could it be financial problems or a medical concern? Is it a broken relationship in our family, a habit of lying, trying to cover our tracks? Are we being squeezed to death by bitterness, resentment, anger, grief, guilt or a poor self image?
Remember these words. “Untie him and her and let them go free.”
As we reflect on what has us all wrapped up. What is preventing us from moving freely and experiencing real life?
I think it is important to also ask ourselves: Are there situations or relationships going on right now, where we are binding or tying up other people? How would we do this?
Does our sour, negative attitudes and biting criticism destroy the spirit of those around us? Are we quick to see the bad, and blind to the good and positive in the people close to us?
How about back stabbing rumors, parking lot gossip and unfair stereotypes?
“Untie him and her and let them go free.”
During this Lent as we take some time to look inward, as we think about what binds us and how to remove the tight wrappings. I think our Gospel reminds us of 3 significant realities that need to be clearly stated.
As Martha mentioned, regarding her brother, it is going to be a smelly procedure. Taking off these bindings will be a slow and painful process. It will be very messy. No real conversion happens without pain. We may be tempted to short circuit the process. We may want to fantasize that everything will be fine in the morning. But it will not go away by itself!
Jesus tells others to help unbind Lazarus. We will need help also. A good friend to listen and to challenge. A teacher, a minister, a trained counselor and a support group. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can do it alone!
The final point may be the most important. Right in the middle of this smelly, messy process of unbinding that we are challenged to enter into, we too, just like Lazarus, have the presence and reassurance of Jesus. “I am with you!” “You are not alone, even when it is the darkest.” “Don’t give up!” “Keep trying!”
“Untie him and her and let them go free.”