Here are three short reflections for Holy Week and Easter. They are adapted from my book, By the Way:
“The Times We Live In”
Some of the Saints lived during terrible times. Take Catherine of Siena, who lived in 14th Century Italy. During her times, the Black Death raged throughout Europe killing 26 million people (an estimated 30% to 60% of Europe’s total population!), mercenary armies prowled the countryside cutting a path of death and destruction wherever they went, and Pope Gregory XI was cowering in Avignon, France, leaving the Church in the hands of corrupt legates. In many ways, Catherine’s times were “the worst of times.”
But Catherine did not bemoan her times. She did not say, “If only the Black Death would go away… If only the world were at peace… If only we had perfect Church leaders, then I could really live my Christian faith.” No, Catherine became a saint by accepting her times as the context in which she was called to live her faith. She did not run away from the critical issues of her day; she engaged herself with them.
Sometimes we are quick to bemoan our own times. We assume that the world used to be a kinder and gentler place, and our ancestors had it easier than we do. But a quick perusal of history shows that every age, for one reason or another, could be called “the worst of times.” But, as Christians, we believe our age is precisely the context in which we are being called to live our faith. Like Catherine, we are being called to respond to the critical issues of our times with attentiveness, courage, love, persistence, and great faith in Jesus.
* * * * * * * *
“Love Is not Fair”
As children, most of us had a keen sense of fairness. If our brother got a bigger cookie, if our sister was allowed to stay up later than we were, if it wasn’t our turn to feed the dog and yet we were told to feed him, we were quick to protest, “That’s not fair!”
No wonder Jesus’ teachings on love are so hard for us. “When someone strikes you on the cheek, turn the other one to him as well… from the person who takes your cloak, don’t hold back your tunic as well… Forgive your brothers and sisters not seven times, but seventy-seven times..” We protest: “But that’s not fair, Jesus!”
But when we recall God’s incredible love for us, we realize: that’s not fair either! That the God of Goodness and Power and Beauty and Truth should create us, should love us, should love me, a sinner, is not fair. But both our existence and our salvation are rooted in the unfairness of God’s love and mercy. And here’s the hard part: As Christians, we are called to love others as God loves us: compassionately, consistently, inclusively, and forgivingly. (To do otherwise, would not be fair!)
* * * * * * * *
“Quotations on Spring”
“If spring came but once a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change.” (Henry W. Longfellow)
“Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’” (Robert Orben)
“I wish each of us Easter eyes, able to perceive in death, life; in guilt, forgiveness; in separation, unity; in wounds, glory; in the human, God; in God, the human; and in the I, the you.” (Bishop Klaus Hemmerle of Aachen)
I wish each of you a blessed Holy Week and a joyful and glorious Easter!
Today’s song is a new song by Josh Baldwin, “When I Stand in Your Love.” There’s something about this song that really speaks to me. After I hear it, the refrain “haunts” me—in a good way. This version was recorded at a live concert. Standing in God’s love gives us hope and courage—especially when we are experiencing a Good Friday in our life…
Do any of the reflections, quotations, or the song elicit any response from you? As always, I welcome you to share a response below: