Friday, April 30, 2010

Easter 2010

The first word Jesus speaks from His Risen Life is “peace.” Some commentators suggest that the way it was spoken cannot be understood apart from Jesus’ breathing his spirit into them. And with the gift of that Divine breath, the frightened disciples exhaled fear and inhaled a divine gift of peace.
We cannot remember our first breath, the first expansion of our lungs, lungs that were tiny, brand new, awaiting their power to stir a baby to the necessities of this life – of breathing, crying, wailing. It all begins with an intake of air. And with more breathing, life as we know it begins. And grows.
Most of us have been with a loved one when he or she breathes the last breath. A lifeless corpse is stunning in its stillness, its absence of the living man or woman who inhabited it. Where do the dead go? We speak of Paradise and yet do not know what it is, where it is, whether it is of matter or pure spirit, whether it is near, or far.
We only have hope that there is a place for us after this life. We hope that when we exhale that last time, that the next and immediate inhale will be that of the taste of the breath of God – the only breath that gives us life, eternal life.
As recently as last week, Walter Cardinal Kasper said that the path that the church is on is irreversible. When you think about it, the path is not of our making. It winds behind us as a gift, and looms ahead of us, also as gift. And there is a wind at our backs, moving us forward, even when we fear what lies ahead, fear what we may lose by leaving the past, the familiar, as the road before us is strange, unknown, frightening. But move we must, sooner than later. A church that hopes to settle in a certain time or place or mode of being cannot be. It cannot hold its breath for long. It must breathe, move, discern. And breathe again. Its life is of and from God. We do not live from ourselves. God brings life from the womb, brings life into our days, and brings us through death to life. We gather this morning to recall the first one to rise from the dead. We share in that mystery. We are sons and daughters of God, a God of love who is the deepest and lasting meaning of it all. What God creates cannot end. It is only transformed anew, ever anew. The road ahead stretches on forever. And it sheds its light on how we are to walk with each other in this life, as we grow in and through this gift we call life.
Peace does not exist apart from Jesus. In giving peace, he gives himself. Peace is not the fruit of a plan or a treaty. It cannot be worked out in time. It cannot be temporary. Nor can it be an absence of conflict, violence or war. It is a presence that can and does exist in the midst of trials, or in a combat zone, or amidst divided hearts. It lives and is known when and where even the most fleeting gesture of peace is shared, and hopefully shared again. It will grow for its life is stronger than any death that surrounds it or seemingly overwhelms it. God has breathed his very life into us and on this Easter morning we share that presence through the clarity offered by sacramental ritual. On behalf of our Order, of Francis Michael our Abbot, I wish you blessed Easter, to your families and loved ones, to those who await a peace that is never ours to possess but only give away.

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