Sunday, April 30, 2006

3rd Sunday of Easter (B)
Are We There Yet?

Readings: Acts 3:13-15,17-19; 1 John 2:1-5 ; Luke 24:35-48

Dear sisters and brothers, have you ever been on a long drive – maybe on the North-South highway in Malaysia – with one or two little children in the car? After some time on the road, maybe after you’ve passed JB, the little ones will probably start asking you: “Are we there yet?” And the longer the journey stretches the more insistent and even irritated those little voices will sound, no? “Aiyah! Are we there yet?”

Today we are about a third of the way through the great season of Easter. It’s already the third Sunday. And we might ask ourselves this very same question: “Are we there yet?” Have we begun to enter into the experience of Easter yet? “What experience?” you might ask. The same experience that we mentioned in our opening prayer just now, when we declared to God our Father: “You have made us your sons and daughters and restored the joy of our youth.”

Are we there yet? Do we find ourselves already experiencing the “joy of our youth,” the joy of Easter? Or do we still find ourselves too bogged down by the difficulties of our daily existence, too tightly tied up by the stress and strains of work and family, and much too confused by our own personal hang-ups, to even think about what Easter joy really means?

Of course, the fact that Easter is here doesn’t mean that all our troubles will vanish. Nor does Easter joy mean being on an emotional high at every moment of every day. But we might ask ourselves whether even in the midst of our daily struggles, there is a place, perhaps very deep within us, where we are able to find that quiet conviction that Jesus is indeed risen, that our life has meaning and is worth living; a place from which we can draw the energy we need to face whatever life has in store for us each day; and most importantly, a place where we can find the strength to do what Peter does in today’s first reading and what Jesus tells the disciples to do in today’s gospel: to preach “repentance for the forgiveness of sins… to all the nations.” Are we there yet?

If you’re even a little like me, your response will probably be a long silence or a long “eh…” I don’t really have the confidence to answer the question with a loud “yes.” I know myself a little too well. I know I’m not really there yet. There’s still a distance to go, which is why I think it is a good idea to take time to meditate a little more deeply on our readings for today. It is good to pay careful attention to them, because in them we see how the crucified and risen Jesus leads his disciples more deeply into the joy of Easter.

When we first meet them in the gospel reading of today, the disciples are talking among themselves. There is obviously some excitement among them because some of them – such as the two on the road to Emmaus – have already seen and recognized Jesus. But, for the most part, many of them are probably still caught up in the fear and confusion of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. They had seen their Lord and master tortured, executed, and laid lifeless in a tomb. They probably still feel very keenly the shame of having deserted Him. Like some, if not all of us, they are bogged down. So that when the risen Jesus comes among them again, he finds them “in a state of alarm and fright,” thinking that they are “seeing a ghost.”

And yet, they do not remain in that condition. As we noted earlier, in the first reading, we find Peter fearlessly bearing witness to Jesus and challenging those responsible for putting him to death to “repent and turn to God, so that (their) sins may be wiped out.”

How did this remarkable change come about? How did the disciples move from being stressed out, confused and anxious to being energized, courageous, and hopeful? Where did they get the power to do this?

For the beginnings of an answer, we need to look more closely at the gospel. What does the risen Christ do when he notices his disciples’ fear? He helps them to recognize him. “Look at my hands and feet,” he says, ”yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves…” And notice the change that comes over them. “Their joy was so great,” we are told, “that they could not believe it…” And later, it is in this joy, and in the power of the Spirit that they go out and bear witness to Christ.

This is the lesson for us this morning, isn’t it – that if there is one thing that can get us to where we want to go, it is the joy and power of recognition. Part of the wonder of this Easter season we’re celebrating is that, because of his life, death and resurrection, Jesus our Lord can be found and recognized in every possible situation that life might throw in our path. We can recognize him even in those areas of our lives that seem to be engulfed in darkness. For did he not invite the disciples to gaze upon the ugly wounds in his hands and feet? And did this sight not bring them great joy?

It is when we are able to recognize Christ that we will begin to experience what the first disciples experienced: energy where there once was fatigue, joy where there once was sadness, courage where there once was fear, clarity where there once was confusion.

Joy comes with recognition.

We find the same thing in the responsorial psalm (4:7). “’What can bring us happiness?’ many say. Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.” And isn’t this what we celebrate at Easter: the risen Lord lifting up his face on us? And doesn’t the face of Christ appear to us in many different ways, in the many different people and situations that we encounter in our lives? But we need to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear Him.

And is this not why we are here this morning: to allow the crucified and risen Jesus to help us recognize Him in our lives, even as we recognize Him in the community that gathers, in the priest who presides, in the Word that is proclaimed, and especially in the bread that is broken and the wine that is poured out? And in that recognition, we begin to experience the same Easter joy that has been the birthright of all Christians down through the ages; the joy of the One who conquered death and all its terrors and so set us free to be his witnesses to all the nations.

My sisters and brothers, on this third Sunday of Easter, the Risen Lord desires to help us reach our destination. Do you recognize him? Are you there yet?

Monday, April 24, 2006

2nd Sunday of Easter (A)
Because He Lives…

Readings: Acts 2:42-47; 1 Pet 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Dear Sisters and Brothers, there’s a question that I think should have been occupying our minds and hearts this past week. Its the same question that many a professor is fond of asking students. Perhaps someone might have just presented a paper in class and the relief on the presenter’s face is plain to see. But the professor proceeds to demolish that look by asking: “So what?! What difference does it make?” A very important question to ask, don’t you think, even if it does generate discomfort?

As you know, we have been celebrating the octave of Easter, which means the same Easter Day extended over eight days. The lengthy celebration is, of course, because of the importance of Easter. It is the central feast of the church’s calendar. But the celebration is also extended because we need the time precisely to ask ourselves the “so what?!” question. So what if Christ is risen? What difference does it make in my life?

Most likely, our experiences of this past week will have been varied. Some will have felt something of the true joy of Easter gradually permeating their hearts and lives throughout this time. Others may have felt it only intermittently. Yet others may still be wondering what the fuss is all about, or may even be thinking: “Huh, we’re still celebrating Easter, ah?”

What are we to make of this diversity of experiences? And how might all of us come to experience Easter more deeply? As always, our prayers and readings help us in our reflection. In particular, they speak to us about two things: they tell us what Easter is about, and what we need to enter more fully into its spirit.

What is Easter really about? We know that Christ is risen. We may even be joyful on his behalf. Yet, it is not always easy to see what difference Easter might make in our lives. Many things remain the same even after Jesus has burst forth from the tomb. On Easter Monday, for example, our in-tray at work was probably just the way we left it, if not even fuller. And the same could probably be said for our school-work. The office- or school-gossip was probably still gossiping. Rush-hour traffic was just as heavy as before. The kids, or the parents, or the parents-in-law were probably as difficult to handle. The spouse… well, I won’t even go there. Did anything really change? Or is the author of Ecclesiastes not right when he says: “what has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)?

And yet Easter is meant to make a difference, isn’t it? We declared as much in our opening prayer this evening. You may have noticed the many times the word “life” was mentioned. We declared that Jesus “is alive and has become the Lord of life,” and that through our baptism, God renews God’s “gift of life within us.” We also asked God to “increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share in Christ,” to “help us to grow… toward the fullness of eternal life.” Isn’t this what Easter is about: not just a celebration of the risen Christ, but also a joyful participation in His risen life? But if Easter does indeed mean a new life for us, what is this new risen life like?

We heard it described for us in the second reading. Several characteristics stand out. First, in this new life we may still “have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials”. But, in whatever form they may come, these trials do not succeed in discouraging us. Instead, just as fire purifies gold from impurities, our trials help to purify our faith. What’s more, even in the midst of these trials, the risen life is characterized by “great joy” that is the result of a “sure hope”. We rejoice because we are convinced that, even as we continue to struggle, our ultimate destiny in God is assured. As Peter puts it, in Christ we have “the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for (us) in the heavens.” This is the risen life that we are celebrating, and which we are all called to live.

But, as we said earlier, not all of us experience this new life to the same extent, do we? How might we participate more fully in this new life? Again, our readings point us in the right direction. The gospel, especially, highlights what is the one indispensable condition for the risen life when it tells us that the things recorded in it are written “so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this (we) may have life through his name.” Belief or faith in Christ is what leads us to life.

But do we not already believe? Are we not already baptized? Are we not among those who are happy because we “have not seen and yet believe”? Even so, how many of us can say that we are already living the risen life in its fullness? What more can we do?

Again, several points stand out in our readings. The first thing is how the power to live the risen life comes through an experience of the Risen Lord. The disciples are fearful, and Thomas is cynical, until the Risen Jesus appears to them. In this experience we see the power of the Risen Christ to overcome obstacles. Even though “the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were… Jesus came and stood among them… (and) said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” And isn’t that closed door a symbol of hearts closed by such obstacles as fear and disillusionment, bitterness and cynicism? And isn’t it the same with us? Are there not areas in our hearts and lives that are closed in various ways and by various things? Things like anxiety and stress, anger and unforgiveness? Like Thomas, don’t we also need to lay bare these obstacles, to bring them before the Risen Lord, so that He may overcome them?

There is one other important characteristic to consider. Often, when we reflect on the gospel of today, our attention is focused on Thomas as an individual, and how the Risen Christ helps him to believe. But Thomas’ journey to faith does not take place apart from that of the other disciples. Thomas experiences Christ precisely when he is with the others. Indeed, in the gospels, even though the Risen Christ does appear to individuals, the experience of the Risen Lord is first of all the experience of a community. Our faith in the Christ grows only to the extent that we imitate what the early Christians did, as described in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles: “the whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” Faith comes from fidelity not only to the crucified and risen Lord, but also to the community that is His Body.

Dear sisters and brothers, Christ is indeed risen! And as we continue to ask ourselves, “so what?” we may take to heart the following words from an old but still popular charismatic hymn: “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone. Because I know, I know he holds the future. And life is worth the living just because he lives.”

What difference does Easter make in your life?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Vigil (B)
The Power of the Word

Readings: Genesis 1:1--2:2; Exodus 14:15--15:1; Isaiah 55:1-11; Romans 6:3-11; Luke 24:1-12

Dear sisters and brothers, tonight is truly a night to be joyful, a night to celebrate. And you will think me silly if I were to ask: “why are we so happy tonight? What exactly are we celebrating?” As the younger ones among us will say: “Duh!” It’s Easter! The Lord is Risen! Indeed, we began our celebrations by joyously hailing “Christ our Light,” who has triumphed over the darkness of sin and death. We were exhorted, in the Exultet, to “rejoice!” because “Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!” Yes, we are truly excited and exultant because Christ – who was crucified, died and was buried – now lives no more to die!

We all know that much. And yet, we dare not claim to fully comprehend the reason for our joy, let alone its implications for our lives. The mystery is too deep – so deep that we will spend the next fifty days of the Easter Season, and every Sunday after that, attempting to plumb its depths. Still, we can make a start, by considering how we will celebrate this liturgy together tonight. What significance does the Lord’s resurrection have for us here and now?

One aspect stands out. In a few moments, we will baptize forty-five new members into our community. Among other things, the ritual will require them to publicly renounce sin and to profess the Catholic faith. Following their lead, the rest of us, including the ten who will be received into full communion with the Catholic Church, will also publicly renew our baptismal promises. In making and renewing these promises we will neither be paying mere lip-service, nor simply going through the motions. Instead, our words are meant to have an effect on our lives.

By making and renewing these promises, we are saying that we will continually strive to live for God alone. In the words of that popular hymn by Paul Inwood, “O Lord, you are the centre of my life: I will always praise you, I will always serve you, I will always keep you in my sight.” Through these promises ours, we will commit ourselves to allowing God to be the one unifying force that holds together the fragments of our daily existence, and in this way, to give our lives new meaning. More than that, we are saying that we will allow God to be the centre of our life as a community. We, though many and different, will commit ourselves to letting God draw us together ever more closely into one people, into the one Body of Christ, and through us to continue to draw all peoples, indeed, all creation, into the embrace of God.

Simply put, in making and renewing our baptismal promises, we are declaring our faith in the unifying power of the word.

But is this not something very daring and even presumptuous? Will we really be able to faithfully live out these promises that we are making and renewing tonight? Just a week or so ago, one of our elect emailed me to ask if it would be all right if, after baptism, she were to refrain from receiving communion at Mass from time to time out of a sense of unworthiness. It is a good question, I thought, especially because it shows that she is reflecting very seriously on the concrete implications of her baptism. And isn’t it understandable that she should doubt the strength of her own commitment. Isn’t it natural that she should question the power of her own spoken word, her own promise, to unify her life in Christ and his church? Do not many, if not all, baptized Christians stumble from time to time?

And are we not living precisely at a time when the human word seems to be losing its power to unify? Is our daily reality not filled with the tragedy of broken promises? Do we not often postpone marriage because we despair over the possibility of remaining faithful “till death do us part?” Are our commercial transactions not often determined solely by economic considerations, such that the breaking of one’s word is tolerated, and even encouraged, if the price is right? Are not even the words of religion regularly misinterpreted and manipulated to suit our own selfish and perverse purposes? And on the international scene, are we not witnessing an ever growing polarization of views and interests – even in well-established democracies – often resulting in civil unrest?

And yet, important as it is to be honest and realistic about our own ability to live up to the promises we make, do we not also have to careful not to forget something essential to our faith, something that we are celebrating tonight? Isn’t the crisis of the word that we have just described precisely part of the darkness that the light of Christ has come to dispel? And if we indeed dare to make and renew our baptismal promises tonight, isn’t it only because we trust first in the unifying power of the Word of God, rather than solely in our own frail human utterances?

Indeed, this is the power that we heard proclaimed in our readings today. As God said, through the prophet Isaiah, “the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” Which brings to mind that song popularized by Don Moen: “God will make a way where there seems to be no way.” We heard as much in the reading from Genesis, describing for us how God’s Word powerfully opens an avenue through the waters of chaos and darkness to bring into existence the goodness of creation. Similarly, in the reading from Exodus, we heard how the power of God’s Word, working through Moses, blazes a path for the Israelites, leading them through the Red Sea waters of confusion and defeat to the opposite shore in safety and triumph.

But powerful as these acts of God are, they point to something even greater. They draw us into the mystery of the power of Christ, the Word of God made flesh, who pioneers for us a way through death to new and more abundant life. In Christ, the Divine Word becomes a human word, so that, as we pass through the waters of our baptism, we too can share in his power. As we heard in the letter to the Romans, “when we were baptized we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.” And it is our trust and hope in this same Word of God that gives us courage and strength to make, renew and live out our baptismal promises. Even if further along the road we should falter, our hope is in the One who also stumbled on the way to Calvary, and who fell into darkness on the cross and in the tomb. But, as we are told in Mark’s gospel, that same tomb is now empty. The Lord who was crucified is now risen. And he frees us from the snare of the fowler who seeks to destroy us (cf. Psalm 91:3).

Is this not more than sufficient reason to be joyful: that weak though our words and hearts may be, we yet have a share in the power of God’s Word made flesh; and that even as we share in his power to unify us, we may, in turn become agents of unification and peace in our world?

My sisters and brothers, I wish you all a blessed and powerful Easter!

The Lord is risen!
Indeed, he is truly risen!
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Passion Sunday (B)
Hardened or Broken?

Readings: Mark 11:1-10; Isa 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47

Dear sisters and brothers, have you ever paid attention to how you react to things that seem strange, or incongruous, or even shocking? For children, I suppose, the immediate reaction would either be to laugh and make fun, or to say “yee-eh!” and run in the opposite direction. What about when we’re all grown up? Does our reaction change? Even a little?

I’m reminded of the time, years ago, when someone I know noticed some grown men walking in pairs around Clifford Pier, and holding hands in broad daylight. “Very strange,” he thought with the hint of a smile on his face, even as he felt the “yee-eh!” gradually creep from the back to the front of his mind. But he later found out that these men were sailors from a foreign land, for whom it is culturally acceptable for men to hold hands in public, and that there was probably nothing sexual about the act.

The surprise that accompanied this discovery was significant. You might say that something broke in my friend that day: the preconceived idea that it is not right for men to hold hands in public. And with that breaking, there came, if only in a small way, a new perspective on the world, a new insight into the truth.

And yet, he could just as well have resisted the new idea. He could have said to himself: “Men should not hold hands in public. And that’s that!” In other words, instead of allowing his prejudice to be broken, he could have chosen to let it harden.

But why talk about such strange things on Passion Sunday, when the length of the prayers and readings seems to invite the prudent homilist simply to remain silent? Is it not in order to highlight something striking in our liturgy today, something that is not obscured by its length? Have you not noticed the strange and incongruous elements in them?

Consider, for example, the biblical event we celebrate with our palms today: Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. In the words of the hymn: “The king of glory comes, the nation rejoices.” Yet, this great and mighty king chooses to ride on a donkey. That’s not very glorious, is it? Yet the people hail him.

Then, in the passion narrative from Mark, the disciples are told to “meet a man carrying a pitcher of water.” Another incongruous sight surely, given that fetching water is the work of a woman. Yet the disciples are told to “follow him.”

And what about the woman who anoints Jesus with the costly ointment? More than strange, it’s downright scandalous. One can imagine the thoughts going through the minds of those present: a highly sought-after spiritual teacher who allows himself to be touched so intimately by a woman. “Yee-eh!” And yet Jesus praises her.

What are we to make of all this? Clearly, we are being invited to go deeper: to see beyond the donkey, the water pitcher, and the ointment. We are being invited to examine our image of God and our understanding of how God chooses to be present in our lives and in our world. What is our God like? How does our God compare with the God that is found in our readings? We are being called to allow ourselves to be shocked by the image – so beautifully and poignantly described for us in our second reading – of a God who wishes to be so intimately present to his people, that God “emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave… even to accepting death… death on a cross.” It is a familiar image, to be sure. But we must not allow familiarity to breed indifference, much less contempt.

For familiar though it may be, do we not still find ourselves shocked by our own belief in a Crucified Saviour? Are we not challenged by it, for example, when our dreams of a comfortable and trouble-free life are shattered by the reality of pain and tragedy? Or when, in our never-ending quest for upward-mobility, we suddenly hear the Lord remind us of how “blessed are the poor in spirit,” and how “the meek… will inherit the earth” (Mt 5:3, 5)? Do we not continue to be disturbed by it when, despite our best efforts to find God in the tranquility of an air-conditioned church, our attention is somehow strangely directed to the poor, the suffering, and even the problematic people in our midst? Does the reality of a Crucified God not continue to shock us especially when our attempts at being true to the gospel attract not admiration and praise but rather “insult and spittle”?

In situations like these, are we not faced with a choice? We can join those who eventually crucified Christ, and harden our hearts. Or, like that alabaster jar of costly ointment, we can allow ourselves to be broken, the better to welcome the One who is at once the King of glory and the suffering servant of God; to allow Him into our hearts and into our lives, so that like Him we too may be poured out as a precious anointing upon our world.

The choice is not an easy one, especially when we find ourselves in a dark valley. But even there we are not alone. Consolation is found in the One who cried out from the desolation of His cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”

My sisters and brothers, in this week of all weeks, as we watch our Lord move from table to garden to cross to tomb and beyond, the choice before us is clear. Will our hearts be hardened? Or will we allow them to be broken? Our Saviour awaits our answer…

Sunday, April 02, 2006

5th Sunday in Lent (A)
New Life

Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45

Dear sisters and brothers, on a Sunday such as this, as you listen to the readings at Mass, and perhaps even to the homily, do you sometimes find yourself thinking, if only for a split second: “Boy, this is really boring. What has all this to do with me?” If so, you’re probably not alone. It is difficult, sometimes, to connect with the readings proclaimed at Mass. And often the way in which we listen to the readings compound the difficulty. Consider, for example, the story of Lazarus in today’s gospel.

First we may think that this story is solely about an event in the past. It happened two thousand years ago, to a man named Lazarus, who died and was resuscitated by Jesus. What, we may then think, has that to do with me?

Or, we may instead think that the story is solely about an event in the future. It speaks of the resurrection at the end of time. As Martha says of her brother, “I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.” But, the end of time is probably a long way away, or so we may think. Why worry about it now?

Yet, if the word of God is indeed alive and active (Hb 4:12), then the Lazarus story is saying something to us in the present. It speaks to us not only about what God has done, but also about what God wishes to continue doing for us, in the here and now. As God says to us in the first reading, “I am now going to open your graves… I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live.”

Even so, what can we possibly have in common with Lazarus? Aren’t we all still very much alive? This objection assumes that the Lazarus story is solely about being raised from bodily death. Yet, as some of us already know, in John’s gospel, Jesus’ miracles are called signs. They point to the significance of who Jesus is, and what God is doing through Him. The raising of Lazarus points to something more than a physical resuscitation. And, collectively, the readings today are less about how we can live forever and ever on the face of this earth, than they are about how God continually calls His people into a more meaningful and fulfilling existence, an existence rooted in His love for us. As the second reading reminds us, “Your interests… are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you.”

In order to get a sense of this call from God, we need to connect at some level with the experience of Lazarus. What was it like for him, as he was being called by Jesus out of the darkness of the tomb into the bright light of day? Together, let us try to place ourselves in his situation. You may like to close your eyes…

Imagine: There you are, tightly bound in burial cloths, and lying where others have placed you, within the rocky interior of the cave that is now your final resting place, your tomb. With the stone rolled in place, no light can enter. You couldn’t see your own fingers if you held out your hand in front of you. But it doesn’t make a difference to you, since you have already lost the light of consciousness. You are dead.

All is dark for you, without and within.

But then something pierces the darkness – a Voice at once so distant and yet so clear and strangely familiar; a Voice so tender and yet so insistent and powerful. “Lazarus, here! Come out!” And suddenly, the light comes on again. You awake! Your senses are operational again. With the stone rolled aside, light is streaming into the tomb. Yet, with your eyes still covered by the burial cloths, it is the Voice that captures your attention above all else. It is the power of that Voice that wakes you from your deadly slumber.

For a moment, however, you hesitate. The tomb is dark, but it feels safe. To leave it is to step out into the unknown. You flirt with the idea of just lying here, if only for a while longer. But the Voice continues to echo in your mind. And you begin to realize that it resonates with a second voice, one that speaks from within your own heart, mouthing words similar to those of the psalmist: “My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word. My soul is longing for the Lord more than watchman for daybreak.”

And even though you’ve not actually heard the words addressed to you, you begin to appreciate the truth of what the Lord has said to your sister Martha, “If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live…” Yes, as you prepare to step out into the unknown, you know that you need to believe and trust in Him who loves you. Indeed, you want to believe in Him, perhaps even more than the watchman desires the breaking of day.

So, finally, you decide to heed the Voice. You rise and stumble out of your rocky grave. Once again the Voice sounds. “Unbind him, let him go free.” Caring hands assist you. The cloths are removed. And as your eyes adjust to the welcome glare of daylight, you behold the Voice for the first time since your burial, the One who is God’s Word, the One who is the Light of the World. And filled with an inexpressible joy in His presence, you rush into his arms and you weep…

Sisters and brothers, what does this brief prayer exercise do for us? Hopefully, it helps us to see that, at some level, it is possible to identify with Lazarus.

The elect, in particular, should be able to recognize the call of Christ that they have heeded, the call that has led and sustained them on the RCIA journey. Even as they continue to prepare themselves for the Easter sacraments, they will sense the urgency of their own desire to forsake their old life of unbelief, so as to embrace a new life in Christ.

The same can surely be said for us who are already baptized. Of course, none of us has been sealed in a tomb of rock. But are there not areas in our lives where we continue to be sealed within tombs of selfishness and fear, of petty jealousies and resentments, of apathy and neglect of those most in need of our help and attention? Are there not areas in our lives where the Voice of the God’s incarnate Word continues to resound, calling us to step out of the cold comfort of our graves into the warm radiance of God’s presence?

I am reminded of a story told by the late Anthony de Mello:
A guru asked his disciples how they could tell when the night had ended and the day begun.
One said, “When you see an animal in the distance and can tell whether it is a cow or a horse.”
“No,” said the guru.
“When you look at a tree in the distance and can tell if it is a mango tree or a durian tree.”
“Wrong again,” said the guru.
“Well, then, what is it?” asked the disciples.
“When you look into the face of any man and recognize your brother in him; when you look into the face of any woman and recognize in her your sister. If you cannot do this, no matter what time it is by the sun it is still night.”

Sisters and brothers, how is Christ calling you out of your tomb today? What is your response?
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