Have you ever had the experience of being outside on a very, very dark night with no moon, and looking up
you saw a sky replete with stars – millions and millions of stars across the entire dome of the sky? It’s an incredibly spectacular view, especially if you’re in an area unmarred by city lights and polluted air. Those stars, we’re told, are more than 25 light years away, with each light year being comparable to a distance of 5.8 trillion miles! One finds
mention of the stars in sacred scripture at many different moments. But there’s one particular line is Psalm 147 that always gives me pause. It says that God calls each of the stars by name. Imagine that!
Well, it was under such starlight of the Jerusalem sky that Mary Magdalene set out from her home with her friends to the tomb on that Sunday morning, arriving just as the sun was coming up. They were looking for the body of Jesus, but the maker of these named stars had been at work. And the one through whom all things were made was no longer entombed but had risen.
Jesus Christ had risen. Jesus Christ is risen The resurrection of Jesus has catapulted the vision and plan that God has for
the whole of the salvation of humankind for centuries. God’s vision for a world of peace that goes beyond the absence of war. It is a vision of a world that is not divided or divisive; a world in which there is no hunger or poverty and so much more wellbeing for all. It’s a world that is so much better than the one we often find in our life journey in these days. It’s a remarkable and unique vision – one that we all know about because of the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Yet, it is an elusive vision. A dream that we need to continue to choose and strive towards though we fall short of it often. Yes, it can be frustrating and we can get discouraged, yet it is a dream and a vision that we know about and desire, as imperfect as our efforts may be, because we sometimes savor it when we come together in mutually beneficial ways in relationships, in friendships, in families, in parishes, in communities, and in neighborhoods. God’s plan for us is embodied in the hope that all of evil and the pathway forward from evil is conquered in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Recently, Pope Francis published an encyclical entitled, Fratelli Tutti (we are all sisters and brothers). In it, he speaks about the common heritage of all humankind as sisters and brothers. It’s a simple truth although it’s hard for us to even appreciate its full impact. We are all the same. We are all the work of God’s hands. God’s fingerprints are on each one of us and yet God made us to be entirely unique individuals. God’s vision is for each one of us to take the thread that is me, that is you, and weave it into one remarkably united, precious, and beautiful tapestry through friendships, families, communities, institutions of various sorts, workplaces, schools, countries and throughout the world.
This remarkable vision is pregnant with hope for us to become one, distinct and different as we are, into one, integrated, and desirable tapestry of life. When you look at a tapestry there is so much color, variability, and beauty to it. But did you ever look at the reverse side of a tapestry? It’s really messy. This is the story of our life – weaving that tapestry, that beauty that is God’s dream for us can be messy but when we choose to live it and get a taste of it, it spurs us onward. And the pattern to create this incredible tapestry is found in the person of Jesus – in his life, his teachings, his cross, his resurrection.
This spectacular vision can only fully come to be if each of us chooses to earnestly engage in the full practice of love – the practice of authentic love. It’s not the superficiality of love that we hear about in our culture, the totally self-defined and self-referential and all about self, kind of love. No, truly authentic love is pure at its core and includes the wellbeing of others. Because, you see, the dream will never come true if it’s the “I’m number one” kind of love. It’s not about me or you, it’s about us, all of us. It’s the first person plural that must be the operative and defining aspect of completing the vision that God has for us.
You know, starlight can sometimes be intoxicating. It can set us off in a dreamy place. Fairy tales are told about starlight. But starlight is real. For me, when I think about and observe starlight, it gives me hope because it helps me
recognize the truth of the omnipotence of God, that nothing is impossible for God. With God all things are possible – but God needs our cooperation to make the dream become a reality. So let’s not get stuck and want to give up, allowing ourselves to believe that our dreams, our political systems, our health care systems, our education systems, sensible immigration policies, work situations or our caring for one another are impossible to ameliorate.
That we can be as united as we are different is the ultimate dream for which each of us long. The strength that flows from our unity can realize in little and big ways the vision God holds for humankind.
Second Sunday of Easter
April 10/11, 2021
When the risen Christ encounters his disciples in the locked room he adds a new
Beatitude to the ones we’ve heard proclaimed before:
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.
Stewards of the mysteries of God’s love do not need proof of the risen Christ. They know it because their lives have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who has breathed new life into them. As stewards of
this great gift it is appropriate to reflect on how we in turn add new life into our parish communities.