Sunday, April 07, 2013



2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Finding Our Phone Booth

Picture: cc Anna Majkowska

Sisters and brothers, have you noticed how difficult it is these days to find a public phone booth? When was the last time you saw one? I don’t think I remember. Phone booths are indeed becoming very rare. And yet few, if any, of us really miss them, right? After all, everybody has their own cellphone now. No one really needs to use a public phone anymore, let alone a phone booth. In the real world, phone booths have become quite unnecessary.

But this is not quite the case in the world of comic book superheroes. I’m thinking, of course, of Superman. We may remember the place where Clark Kent–the gentle, mild mannered and bespectacled reporter–usually changes into his alter-ego. The amazing Man-of-Steel. Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. We all know that, in the comic books, this incredible transformation often takes place in a phone booth. So that although they may be disappearing in the real world, phone booths still have an important role to play in the world of superheroes. For here phone booths are the privileged places where the ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary. Where weakness is changed into strength.

And what is true of the world of superheroes is also true in the life of the spirit as well. Now there is, of course, no mention of phone booths in our readings today. But we do find people acting very much like superheroes. Consider what we are told, in the first reading, about Peter and the rest of the apostles. Notice how powerful they are. We’re told that they worked so many signs and wonders that people were laying their sick in the streets just so that the shadow of Peter might fall upon them and heal them! People even travelled to Jerusalem from the neighbouring towns bringing their sick, and those tormented by unclean spirits. And all of them were cured. Just imagine the incredible superpowers the apostles wielded!

And yet, we know that the apostles were not always so powerful. They were not always so brave and so strong. There was a time when they were very fearful and very weak. How then did they become such superheroes? Like Superman, did they also have some kind of phone booth? Some special spiritual place where they could exchange their weakness for strength?

The answer is found in our other two readings for today. As we said earlier, there is no mention of phone booths in either of these readings. In fact, in each of them, the action seems to take place in very different locations. In the gospel, the disciples are all cooped up in the confined space of a room with locked doors. While, in the second reading, St. John finds himself exiled on the island of Patmos. A locked room on the one hand, and an island of exile on the other. Two locations that seem as different as night and day. And yet, something very similar happens in these apparently dissimilar places.

In the locked room, fearful disciples are given peace and joy and even a new mission. Peace be with you, as the Father sent me, so am I sending you… In the locked room, a disciple paralysed by doubts receives the precious gift of Resurrection faith. Doubt no longer, but believe… Courage and assurance. Joy and new purpose. Aren’t these also the things that the apostle John receives on Patmos? In his isolation and suffering, John somehow finds strength to undertake a new mission. Do not be afraid, he is told, write down all that you see…

Sisters and brothers, although the locked room and the island of exile are very different physical locations, they are really the same spiritual place. They are the same because the same amazing thing occurs in each of them. Like Superman’s phone booth, these are the places where the ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary. Where the weak are given new strength. And it’s very helpful for us to consider how this happens. It happens when ordinary disciples come together in their helplessness and vulnerability. It happens when friends gather to remember how they have been bound together into one body by the Lord Jesus, who made himself weak for their sake. Jesus, who humbled himself even to the point of accepting death. And who was raised to life on the third day.

This is obviously what the disciples are doing in the their locked room. This is obviously what Thomas is doing, even as he struggles with his doubts. And isn’t this also what John is doing even while exiled on Patmos? He writes to his community in these words: Through our union in Jesus I am your brother and share your sufferings, your kingdom, and all you endure. Even though John is separated from his friends, he is able to remember that he isn’t really on his own. Even though he cannot be present to his community in person, he gathers with them in spirit. In the spirit of Christ. And then, somehow, in the gathering and in the remembering, the Crucified and Risen One comes among the disciples. Whether they are in a locked room or on a deserted island, Jesus comes to them. Calming them with his peace. Cheering them with his joy. Commissioning them to continue the powerful work that Jesus himself did when he walked the face of this earth.

Sisters and brothers, isn’t this also what we are doing here today? Today, we gather in this church and around this altar, not as perfect and sinless people. Not as strong and powerful people. Not as people without doubts and hangups. If we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge that we each have our fair share of all these things. And yet, it is in our acknowledgement of our weaknesses, in the sight of God and in the presence of one another, that we are given new strength. Strength not just for ourselves, but also for those who may need our help. As we gather and as we remember our Crucified and Risen Lord, both as individuals and as a community, we find ourselves transformed into bearers of his peace and joy, his mercy and his healing to a waiting world. But in order for us to do this, we must seek out and find that privileged spiritual place within ourselves. The place that seems to be more and more difficult to find out in the real world. That special spiritual place where helplessness can be exchanged for power. Where weakness can be transformed into strength.

Sisters and brothers, on this 2nd Sunday of Easter, on this day when we celebrate the Divine Mercy, where and how will you find your phone booth today?

2 comments:

  1. O Risen Lord,

    I often have my doubts despite my best of intentions to want to believe in You.

    Often, my fears, my anxieties and pains blind me and i am unable to SEE and BELIEVE in You and in YOUR POWER of the RESURRECTION.

    Lord, help me to learn to SEE YOU and to dare to TRUST IN YOU, always.

    Keep me from all peoples, things and situations that draw me AWAY from You.

    For it is when I am weak that You are strong.

    Teach me, Lord, to value my weaknesses so as to appreciate YOUR STRENGTH, YOUR GRACE AND YOUR GLORY in me.

    M-A-R-A-N-A-T-H-A, Come Lord Jesus - come and transform my constant doubts into a faith deep enough to keep on trusting You, as You lead me on, in this faith journey of my life. Amen.

    "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."

    Pax Christi
    Seeing Is Believing.

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  2. Tuesday - 2nd Week of Easter 2013

    O Risen Lord and Saviour, Thank You ever so much for transforming my deep anxiety and restlessness of yesterday into today's JOY. CLARITY & LIGHT, FOR YOUR GREATER GLORY!

    Thank You, my Lord and Saviour, for showing me in no uncertain terms - that YOU are very REAL in my life; that YOU will not hesitate to intervene in my life - to set things right - even if YOU have to put some proud-hearted people back into their proper places!

    Lord, thank you for showing me YOUR POWER AS GOD in my life.

    Thank you for leading me gently into YOUR PHONE BOOTH to transform my deepest darkness and pains into YOUR LIGHT, YOUR JOY, YOUR PEACE AND YOUR GLORY!

    Thank you, Lord, for being on my side, all the time and for supporting me, all the way.

    Indeed, God's LIGHT has overcome all my darkness, once again!

    Hallelujan! Praise be to Our God forever and ever. Amen.

    Pax et Bonum
    Sih Ying

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