Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Talk that Cuts to the Heart

Readings: Acts 2:36-41; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 and 22; John 20:11-18

We probably all know what coffee-shop talk is. It’s the kind of conversation that one has, for example, with one’s kakis on a lazy Sunday afternoon, sitting at the neighbourhood kopitiam, chatting over a cuppa. Sometimes one complains about things that may affect us directly, such as the impending rise in the Civil Service pay-packet or the higher GST or the latest COE prices. Other times one just exchanges comments about things in general, like the war in Iraq, or the murder of the Pakistani cricket coach. These days, of course, the venue for these conversations is changing. Even as old neighbourhood kopitiams are vanishing, coffee-shop talk continues, at hawker centres in the Heartland, at Starbucks outlets in hipper parts of town, and especially on blogs and online forums over the internet. And it’s important that such conversations continue, because they are such a good way to relax, to let off steam, and especially to exchange ideas as to how the world can be made a better place.

Yet, isn’t it true that much of such talk is carried out in ways that are often less than conducive for uncovering the Truth? Isn’t it true that sometimes, if not often, we carry out such conversations simply to reaffirm our own prejudices and biases, or worse, to try to force others to think the same way we do? And what happens when we fail? Instead of politely agreeing to disagree, some of us resort to personal attacks on the conversation partner. Isn’t this why there is now a call in some quarters for regulating such conversations on the internet?

What a contrast to the conversations that we overhear in our readings today. You will remember that yesterday, the readings focused on the sense of sight, on the importance of keeping the Crucified and Risen Lord ever in our sight. Today, the focus is on the sense of hearing. What is the kind of hearing that leads people deeper into the life of the Risen One? It’s the kind that Mary Magdalene and Peter’s listeners are engaged in today. Mary is crying at the tomb because Jesus’ body is missing. But she hears the Risen Christ calling her by name. And everything changes. She rushes off to do all that he tells her. Something similar happens in the first reading. In the power of the Spirit, Peter tells a large crowd of people quite plainly that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ. And instead of denying or arguing or hurling insults, the people are cut to the heart. They realize the truth of their own involvement in what has happened. Listening to Peter, they realize that they have just been called by name. And they are anxious to know what they must do.

Isn’t this openness to Truth, this responsiveness to being called by name, this willingness to being cut to the heart, just the kind of thing that we need for our conversations, wherever and however they are carried out, to lead us more deeply into the resurrected life? Isn't this something for which we need to pray?
Today, how is the Crucified and Risen One cutting us to the heart? How is He calling us by our name?

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