Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Fire of New Life

I love going to the Easter Vigil! Here is the new fire at my parish this year.
The Triduum has ended and now we celebrate the gift of Christ's resurrection. I have reflected a bit this year on how Jesus ended up being crucified. He spoke with charisma and authority and was a threat to the status quo. He put people before regulations-healing on the Sabbath. He called out those who were acting holy, but were living lives of power and not faith. He challenged people to look differently at those around them who suffered physically or otherwise that put them on the edges of society. He taught us to be greatly generous with the things we have and of forgiveness.

So,those of us who claim to be followers of Christ, how are we doing in those areas? Do we put people first? If not what does come first? My convenience? No one judging me for caring about the cast-off from society? Will I risk my own reputation by stepping forward or speaking out? Am I willing to risk what people think about me?
Do I put more emphasis on looking prayerful and pious than I do on being in relationship with Christ?

How about being judgmental? It seems like we live in dense fog of judging others here in the U.S. Our politics are full of us vs. them-and so nothing gets done. But it isn't just our politicians. Our society is full of variations of the us vs. them accompanied by a great dislike of "them" whom we really don't know much about even though we think we have them all figured out.

Then there is Jesus' clear option for the poor-looking out for the downtrodden. I know many Christians who appear to have missed all those scriptures about caring for "the least of these". So how can we truly follow Christ yet live so differently? How can we claim to follow the teachings of the Church yet miss the long, solid line of Catholic Social Teaching? Pope Benedict XVI just recently challenged Catholic politicians to adhere to Catholic Social Teaching. What about the rest of us?

Christ was crucified by the people of the day for all kinds of unjustified reasons. Who are the crucified people of today? How about the unborn who never see the light of day? How about those from countries of great poverty and danger who find no welcome here? How about the children and women bought and sold for the sex trade? How about those living in poverty with no hope of anything different? How about children from troubled homes who find plenty of trouble and end up in prison? Is prison about rehabbing our citizens or only punishment and revenge?
We are quick to judge and slow to compassion. That was not Christ's way.

Christ's love is like the fire we see at the Easter Vigil. If you draw close you will receive the warmth and the light. But it doesn't end there we must turn and share the light we have received-not hog it to ourselves and then criticize others for not having it.

During this Easter season, may our hearts grow in compassion. May we learn to share love, compassion, and forgiveness generously and then our Light--Jesus Christ-- can truly shine.

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