Sunday, April 20, 2014

Changing Our Channels

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Picture: cc Dennis Skley

Sisters and brothers, have you ever marvelled at how easy it is to change the channels on a TV set? You sit in the comfort of your armchair, or bed, watching something on the screen. And then, for some reason, you get tired of what you’re seeing. Maybe it’s too boring. Or too serious. Too violent. Or too depressing. What do you do? You simply pick up the remote, point it at the TV, press a button, and presto! Almost immediately, the screen changes. The news report transforms into a kids’ cartoon. The American reality show fades into a Korean drama series. The horror movie gives way to a romantic comedy. All at the touch of a button. Quite amazing, isn’t it?

This is true of TV sets. But have you ever found yourself wishing that it was just as easy to change reality itself? That there was a special remote we could use to switch the channels of our lives? Suffering from an unbearable toothache? No need for the dentist. Just press a button and the pain is gone. Another quarrel with a problematic husband? Just reach for the remote and the quarrel is forgotten... Or maybe the husband is changed.

Sisters and brothers, if you think that this is nothing more than wishful thinking, you’re right. The fact is there is no such remote. And maybe there shouldn’t be. After all, if it were so easy to change reality, what value would we place on life? If it were so easy to change husbands, how little would I treasure the one I already have. And yet, we cannot deny that reality does often need to be changed. War and conflict, for example, need to be transformed into peace and reconciliation. Inequality to justice. Prejudice and oppression to mercy and compassion. And all these changes are not easy to bring about.

And yet, although there is no easy way to change the channels on the screen of reality. It is not impossible. The way to do it is, of course, to first change ourselves. The viewers. To transform our mindsets and perspectives. To change how we look at life and reality. At situations and people. And, strange as it may seem, we Christians do have a remote that allows us to do this. One that first changes the channels in us, the viewers. Isn’t this what the Resurrection is all about?

Consider what happens on Easter Sunday. Look closely at the change that takes place in the gospel. When Mary Magdalene approaches the cave where Jesus had been laid, she has a very particular view of the place. It is a tomb. A space where dead bodies are buried. Where mourners gather to weep. And this is what Mary is there to do. To mourn and to weep. Nothing more. But something unexpected has happened. Something that at first feels very disturbing. The stone has been rolled away. Without taking the time to look more closely, Mary jumps to a wrong conclusion. She now mistakes the tomb for a crime scene. So she runs to the other disciples to report the offence. They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, she says.

Thankfully, among the disciples, there is one able to see things differently. Following Simon Peter into the cave, the unnamed disciple whom Jesus loved surveys the scene. He notices the burial cloths. In particular, we may imagine, the cloth that had been placed over Jesus’ head. And which was now neatly rolled up in a place by itself. Surely grave robbers would not have been so tidy. We’re told that the beloved disciple sees and he believes. He finally understands that Jesus has been raised. The scene of a crime is transformed for him into a wellspring of new life. The tomb is changed into a womb. And this transformation happens because the beloved disciple is sensitive to the signals sent by the Risen Christ. He is attuned to the remote of the Lord’s Resurrection. The button has been pressed. And the disciple responds. He changes his view. And he acts accordingly. No longer mourning a person who has died. But bearing witness to a life that is new.

And this experience of changing one’s view is not limited to the beloved disciple on Easter Sunday itself. In the first reading, we find Simon Peter having a similar experience. Some time has passed since Easter Sunday. And Peter has travelled north to a place called Caesarea. The reading focuses our attention mainly on the words that Peter speaks. He shares the story of the Lord’s Life, Death and Resurrection. But what is perhaps just as important is the place where Peter is standing. And the people to whom he is speaking. The reading begins by telling us that Peter addressed Cornelius and his household.

Cornelius, as you know, was a Roman centurion. A gentile. Someone whose home it was unlawful for a Jew like Peter to visit. How then does Peter come to be in Cornelius’ house? This happens only because a change has taken place in Peter himself. Earlier, while he was at prayer, Peter had seen a vision, in which a voice had told him that what God has made clean, you have no right to call profane (Ac 10:15). In response to this vision, Peter accepts Cornelius’ invitation to address the centurion’s household. And Peter does this because the vision had effected a change in his view of Cornelius in particular. And gentiles in general.

What was at first seen as a profane place has been transformed into a precious opportunity. A venue for bearing witness to the love and mercy of God. Once again, the button has been pressed on the remote of the Resurrection. And, like the beloved disciple before him, Peter responds. He allows his perspective to change. And with this change of perspective, reality is transformed as well. To the benefit of others. To the greater glory of God. Cornelius and his whole household are converted to Christ. The church continues to grow.

This, sisters and brothers, is the power of what we are celebrating today. The power of the Resurrection. The power that changes a tomb into a womb. A profane place into a venue for spreading the Gospel. A power that effects these changes by transforming the way Christians look at reality. The way we look at others. The way we look at the ordinary situations of daily life. Difficult people become opportunities for growing in patience. Trials and tribulations become occasions for drawing closer to the crucified Christ. Tragedies and disasters become calls to show care and concern.

Isn’t this what the second reading means when it tells us to look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand? Not that we should walk around with our gaze perpetually fixed on the sky. But that we should be willing to continually allow God to change our perspective on life. To change our points of view. To bring them more in tune with how Christ sees. So that we can then begin to change our world.

Sisters and brothers, this is the joyous news: Christ the Lord has been raised. The button on the remote has been pressed. How willing are you to change your point of view today?

1 comment:

  1. O Risen Lord,

    Yes, i am ready to be remote controlled ONLY by You (and no one else)...

    please switch my channels of thoughts - especially in one particular area where i am awfully stuck and i feel so "used" by all concerned.....

    Lord, please show me what is the most LOVING step which YOU will take... as i am now very exhausted, exasperated and i feel so drained..

    for years, i have been the only "bridge" between a few parties whose ties which had long been severed and their connections broken (beyond repair)..

    Lord, i am just too tired to want to go on anymore.. i am truly tired to be the only lop-sided "suspension bridge" - how would You like me to switch over to Your Channel of Peace, Light and Reconciliation?

    Please show me and lead me along Your Way - and Your Paths Onto Peace and Healing. Amen.

    Seeing Is Believing
    25 April 2014 7.15pm.

    Lord, just how would you like to switch my channels? I am ready to be


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