During this Octave of Easter, the sparseness of Lent becomes a memory and the joy of Easter fills us with new life and eternal hope. The scriptures for the Octave of Easter are filled with stories about the confusion, fear and grief of the disciples that is transformed into joy and peace when they encounter the risen Lord. Today, the transforming power of the risen Christ is still available in our everyday lives, because he lives in each one of us. He is the reason for our hope.
Easter and every Eucharist celebration remind us of the love, hope and eternal life that have been gifted to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, rejoice during this holy Easter season, as we are reminded of God’s great gift to us! And may the Easter peace of the Risen Christ, once again, prepare us to meet our Easter Challenge.
Last Wednesday, my seminary students composed and preached homilies for the Easter Vigil. Andrew Hoover began his homily with these words, "The proof of the truth of Christianity is found in the ministry and lives of the apostles after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Nowhere else in the course of history has such a rag-tag group along with the other men and women who followed Jesus, led such a widespread population of people to a new way of life, and so quickly, as they set the word ablaze with the fire of the Lord’s teachings. What is even more remarkable is how clueless the apostles were initially." That last line caught me up short. These early followers of Jesus were clueless. They totally misunderstood Jesus' mission all the way up to and including the passion.
According to a recent communication from the United Nations, Earth Day 2014 will focus on green cities, mobilizing millions of people in an effort to create a sustainable, healthy environments by greening communities worldwide. Since most of the world's population lives in cities, and as the urban population grows, climate change worsens. Cities have to evolve. The Green Cities Campaign helps cities and communities around the world move more quickly to a more sustainable future.
Cities and communities around the world will celebrate Earth Day today, or as the General Assembly of the United Nations calls it, Mother Earth Day.
"Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.'" - Matthew 28:8-11 - Reading for April 21
Pope Francis observed in his first Easter message that the women find the tomb empty, "the body of Jesus is not there and something new has happened, a truly life-changing event. Nothing remains as it was before, not only in the lives of those women, but also in our own lives and in the history of mankind. Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God."
As mentioned before, I often learn from my students. Last week, Eric Garris preached a postil on the reading concerning the three young men in the fiery furnace. He was drawn by the courage of these three young men who just might have been around his own age. He pondered deeply their courage, he told us, and wondered if he faced a great ordeal, if he could stand strong. It was evident that he was greatly touched by this Scripture passage. I share a selection from his brief preaching that caught my attention:
One of the privileges of being the justice promoter for the community is the opportunity to meet with justice promoters from the midwest and south each year. This provides a forum to share experiences, ideas, and goals around a number of justice concerns. This year we met at the Motherhouse of the Houston Dominicans and focused on immigration reform, human trafficking, and economic justice and participated in the Dominican Sisters Conference web seminar, "What is Earth Asking of the Order?"
Everyone came away not only with the challenges each of these justice concerns brings, but the opportunities that collaboration has provided. The corporate voice of Dominicans is impressive, as shown in the DSI web seminar.
"An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each other's hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, they said, "UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if the other ones are sad?" - Tom R. The Annual Black Male Summit, The University of Akron, 2014
When was the last time you were in conflict with another person? How did you resolve the issue or did you?
The women in the Leadership for Peace project spent several hours on Saturday, April 5, practicing mediation skills of listening, reframing, identifying conflict issues in a situation, and helping those in conflict to come to some type of acceptable solutions. Even though role playing, the women could easily find themselves able to understand the emotions and walk in the shoes of the persons described in the case studies.
Leadership for Peace is a collaborative project of Dominican Sisters of Peace and Ohio Dominican University in which the students learn peace building skills related to interpersonal negotiation and mediation, addressing injustices, and forgiveness and reconciliation. Professor Julie Hart teaches the three hour credit class.
Preparing for today's seminary class, I was going over the material from Cathy Hilkert's book Naming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination, that I had assigned them to read. Immersed, too, in readings on the new cosmology with its emphasis on our connectedness to one another and all in the cosmos, the following paragraph from Cathy's book hit me with force. Preachers can and must preach that God is active in human history, but not in neat patterns or uninterrupted narratives. What is most amazing about the sacramental imagination also remains most troubling. The promise is given, the power is given, but the enfleshment of the vision in history depends on human beings. If preachers are to point to God's continued action in human history, the incarnational principle remains central: God is active in and through humankind.