Saturday, May 03, 2014

Magic Marker



3rd Sunday of Easter (A)

Picture: cc sharyn morrow

Sisters and brothers, have you ever found yourself trapped? Stuck somewhere, and unable to escape? Do you know what it feels like? ... There was once a little girl, who had the strange habit of getting herself stuck. She would climb up a tree, for example. And then be unable to come down. Or she would enter a lift, and it would break down. Trapping her inside. Fortunately, this little girl had a fairy godmother. Who gave her a marker with magical powers. Whatever the girl drew with the marker would become real. So that, whenever she got trapped, all she had to do was to draw herself a way out. If she was stuck in a tree, she could draw a ladder and climb down. Trapped in a lift? Well, just draw an open door, and walk through it to freedom.

Sisters and brothers, do you sometimes wish you had a marker like that? Of course, probably few if any of us still get trapped in trees. Or even in lifts. But, especially in Singapore, don’t we sometimes find ourselves caught in traffic? Or how about being stuck in an argument. Where neither party is willing to back down. Or even to agree to disagree. Or what about being trapped in a dead-end job? Or a loveless marriage? Or a boring life? Or, what’s perhaps even worse, have you ever found yourself stuck in the past? Filled with regret at a missed opportunity? Or unable to forgive someone for hurting you? Or to forgive yourself for hurting someone else? In situations like these, wouldn’t it be great to have a magic marker that you could use to draw for yourself a way out? A path to freedom?

Strange as it may seem, this is precisely what the Resurrection provides us. This is what Easter is all about. Consider what happens to the disciples in the gospel today. The two guys on the road to Emmaus. It may not be obvious, but when we first meet them in the reading, they are actually stuck. Trapped in the past. For their own hope had been that Jesus would be the one to set Israel free. But Jesus has already been killed. He has died the death of a convicted criminal. Suffered the fate of one apparently accursed by God. And so their hopes are dashed. Their dreams shattered. They are stuck. Unable to move forward. Not even after having heard stories that Jesus has risen from the dead. Quite paradoxically, sisters and brothers, when we first meet them, the two disciples, although on the road, still remain trapped in their disappointment and disillusionment.

But then something magical happens to them. Jesus appears and sets them free. So that by the end of the reading, even though it is already evening, the two do not stop to rest. They return immediately to Jerusalem. To the very place from which they were trying to escape. To proclaim the very thing they were unable to believe. That Christ the Lord has indeed risen. They who once were trapped have now been let loose. They who once were stuck have now been set free. But how does this happen? How does Jesus bring this about?

Notice that the process has something to do with the drawing of pictures. At first, before the risen Christ appears to them, the two disciples have a very particular view of what had happened in Jerusalem. Of what had befallen Jesus. They picture the Lord’s Passion and Death as nothing more than a terrible tragedy. A dead end. An enclosed space. With no way out. But the risen Lord helps them to draw a different picture.

Using the magic marker of the scriptures, properly interpreted, Jesus helps them to understand something that they were unable to grasp before. The full message of the prophets. Jesus helps them to see that it was ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory. So that what at first looked like a closed door, or a dead end, is now changed into an open gate. A pathway to freedom. And with this change in vision comes a transformation in emotion and in action. Sorrow is transformed into joy. Escape into evangelisation.

We find the same thing happening in the first reading as well. It happens first to Peter and to the other apostles. At first, they were locked in the upper room. Fearful of the enemies of Jesus. But then, on the day of Pentecost, something changes. The apostles are able to paint a different picture of the death of Christ. So that the doors are flung open for them. Not just the doors to the upper room. But also the doors of their own fearful hearts. The obstacles are removed. And the apostles stream out to proclaim the good news of the Lord’s Resurrection.

And that’s not all. Not only are Peter and the other apostles transformed. But through their proclamation, they are able also to transform others. To set their listeners free. People who were once enemies of Christ become his friends. People once trapped in their own ignorance and hostility now become disciples of the Lord. And notice how the process again involves the drawing of pictures. On the day of Pentecost, in the power of the Spirit, Peter proclaims the story of the Dying and Rising of Christ. He paints for his listeners a picture of reality different from their own. An alternate perspective on life. One where loving self-sacrifice triumphs over anxious self-preservation. And, once again, closed doors are flung open. Dead ends are broken through. Trapped people are ushered onto the road of freedom. In the words of the responsorial psalm, you will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness for ever.

This, my dear sisters and brothers, is the power of the Resurrection. The power of the story of the Crucified and Risen Christ. The power of the magic marker by which we, in the various places where we may remain trapped, are able to draw for ourselves escape routes to freedom. Pathways of thought and of action. Roads that lead from the darkness of despair into the bright light of faith and hope in Christ.

But this magic marker is only effective to the extent that we remember to use it. To draw for ourselves an alternate vision of life. Isn’t this why the second reading is so insistent in exhorting us to bear in mind that the ransom that was paid to free us from a useless way of life was not paid in anything corruptible... but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ. For this is the power that has been entrusted to us. A power that we are tapping into in this very Eucharist. A power that can set us free. Free from lives that remain stuck in selfish concerns. Free from conflicts that divide us from one another and within our very selves. Free as much from the stress of overwork as from the boredom arising from apathy and laziness. A power that liberates us so that we can in turn set others free.

Sisters and brothers, in the Lord’s Resurrection, we have each been handed a powerful magic marker. Something that can open, for those who are trapped, a way to freedom. How can we use it more effectively today?

4 comments:

  1. One word, "sorry", spoken sincerely could work such wonders in healing relationships between those who have hurt others and those who have been hurt. Yet how many are humble enough and care enough to say this simple word?

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  2. Indeed, all of us seem to be so PROUD and full of ourselves - instead of allowing God and HIS HUMILITY to take over... we just want things to happen OUR WAY...Perhaps in this case, the words of God's magic marker could be simply the words "H-U-M-I-L-I-T-Y" and "I am sorry..." (spoken from the heart, sincerely)

    This Easter, may we learn Humility from Our Lord Jesus Christ, who despite His Divinity came to live amongst us, as God and Man, He humbly bore all our sins and He died for us, weak, sinful and broken people -

    We need to acknowledge that we are broken people who continue to take God for granted; people who do not understand who God truly is and some do not accept God for who He is..

    Yet, despite all these failings of our human race - God was HUMBLER yet, to accepting death on a cross. Even though He was sinless, He allowed Himself to die a criminal's death - all because HE LOVES EACH OF US UNCONDITIONALLY AND PERSONALLY.

    When we truly realise and appreciate deeply the Saving Power of God and His love for us; will we then renew our commitment to live our lives differently? Will we make room for God to enter in - will we learn to be humble and allow God to be God in our lives?

    if so, our lives will never be the same ever again...

    O Risen Lord, may You come and set us free as You did for Your 2 friends at the Road to Emmaus. Amen.

    Seeing Is Believing
    Sunday 4 May 2014 - Third Sunday of Easter

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  3. Teach me to listen, O God, to those nearest me, my family, my friends, my co-workers.
    Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is, “Accept the person I am. Listen to me.”
    Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me– the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished.
    Teach me to listen, O God my Mother, to myself. Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside — in the deepest part of me.
    Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice — in busyness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence.
    Teach me, Lord, to listen. Amen.
    - See more at: http://peopleforothers.loyolapress.com/2010/01/teach-me-to-listen/#sthash.nBLroAp5.dpuf

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  4. O my Lord,

    teach me to LISTEN to You speaking within me -

    Grant me, Lord, the courage to dare to trust what I hear and to act as You lead me along Your paths. Amen.

    Sih Ying
    9 May 2014 4:00pm

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