Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ultramarathon


4th Sunday in Easter (B)
(Good Shepherd Sunday)

Picture: cc Asiaone News

Sisters and brothers, imagine for a moment that you’re making a long journey. Maybe you’re running an ultramarathon. Like Mr. Yong Yuen Cheng and Mr. Lim Nghee Huat. Who have both decided to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday by running 50 km every day for 50 days. Or maybe you’re climbing a mountain. Or making a pilgrimage of some kind. Whatever it is, the journey is long and the way is hard. Can you think of some challenges you might face along the way? Obstacles that prevent you from completing your journey? I can think of three.

The first is exhaustion. If the journey is long and hard, it’s likely that, at some point, your body is going to start feeling the strain. Maybe your legs will go soft. So that you’ll need some place to rest. Or a source of support. Like a walking stick. Or a travelling companion.

The second challenge is discouragement. Especially when the going gets tough, and your body starts complaining, it’s likely that you’re also going to feel like giving up. Maybe you’ll find your mind drifting to the comforts of home. And maybe you’ll start questioning yourself. Asking why you were stupid enough to go on this journey in the first place. When this happens, you’ll need to be reminded of two things. Your reasons for setting out. As well as what is waiting for you at your destination. Remembering how your trip began, and where it will end, can encourage you to persevere. To continue on your way.

The third challenge is danger. Such as the danger of getting lost, or of being attacked. In such situations of danger, what you’ll need is a protector and a guide. Someone to show you the way when you don’t know which direction to take. Someone to defend you from whatever may threaten your safety.

Exhaustion, discouragement, and danger. Three challenges that people who make long journeys have to face. But why am I talking about all this on this 4th Sunday of Easter? When our church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday? And when we’re supposed to pray for more vocations to the priestly and religious life? The reason becomes clearer when we recall what we prayed for at the beginning of Mass just now. We asked that we the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before. We asked God to help us to arrive at our destination. Which means that, whether we realise it or not, we are all meant to be on a journey. The same journey that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, has already made and completed. By his Cross and Resurrection. The journey from death into life. From selfishness into love. From darkness into light.

My dear friends, as followers of Christ, we are all called to make this journey. Whether we like it or not. This is our vocation. And it’s not easy. We face challenges. At times, we may find ourselves overcome with exhaustion. Too tired to go on. Especially when our temptations just don’t seem to go away. No matter how hard we struggle against them. What are we to do when this happens? Our first reading and the psalm remind us that, instead of giving up, we need to keep making Jesus our cornerstone. To keep leaning on him. To let him be the stable and solid support for our aching bodies and trembling knees. For it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

At other times, we may feel not just tired, but also discouraged. Especially when we are made to suffer for our beliefs. Times when, precisely because we choose to follow God’s ways, we end up losing out to those who don’t. So that we may ask ourselves why we are so stupid. Why we don’t just do what everybody else does. Why, for example, we continue to refuse to step on others, or to stab them in the back, just to get ahead.

At such times, the second reading reminds us of two important things. First, we are reminded of who we already are. We are already the children of God. We are already the brothers and sisters of Christ the Lord. The One who gave his life for us. This is the reason why we act the way we do. Why we live differently from others. We live as Christ our brother lived. We act as he acted. And we face the consequences the way he did as well. Second, we are also reminded of what we are to be in the future. That we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is. This is the goal of our journey. Our final destination. And our greatest dignity. Far more precious than any earthly success. To be like God himself. To see him as he really is. To be reminded of these things–of who we already are, and of what we will become–is to find new courage in times of discouragement.

And then there are also times when we may find ourselves in danger. In danger of getting lost or misled. Times when, even though we very much want to do what is right, we just can’t seem to see clearly the direction we should take. Times when the line between right and wrong, between good and bad, or between good and better, seems too hazy for us to recognise.

At such times, we need to remember what Jesus tells us in the gospel. That he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. When we are in danger of getting lost, he is the One who continues calling out to us. Showing us, by his example, the way we should go. When we are in danger of being deceived, he is the One who keeps us safe from harm. What we need to do is to stay close to him. To keep asking him to teach us to recognise and to follow his voice. As he speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. As well as in the different people and situations that we encounter everyday.

A sure support in exhaustion. A timely reminder in discouragement. A reliable shepherd in danger. These are the things that we find in Jesus our Lord. These are ways in which he helps us to meet the challenges of our journey. So that we can persevere to the very end. But that’s not all. To follow Jesus on the journey is not just to receive help from him. It is also to reach out to others who need our help. To be a support for those who are exhausted. To be a reminder for those who are discouraged. And to be a shepherd to those who are in danger. To do what Peter is doing in the first reading.

To help others on their journey even as we continue to receive help from the Lord on our own. This too is our vocation. And we fulfil this vocation in different ways. Most of us do it as lay people. Married or single. Doing our best to shepherd the people we meet in the world. In our homes and workplaces. In our schools and on the streets. But we also need priests and religious. People who shepherd others in more religious settings. But whether we are married or single, priest, religious, or lay, we are all called to follow Christ in his dying and rising. And to be Christ to those who travel with us on the way.

Sisters and brothers, today the Good Shepherd continues to call us to follow him. What do you need to keep persevering on your journey today?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dream Home


Wedding of Philip & Wendy

Readings: Genesis 1:26-31; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:9-12
Picture: cc  Mark Moz

Philip and Wendy, my dear friends. If it was completely up to you, where would you wish to live? Where would you choose to call home? Would you live in Singapore? Or in another country? In a house? Or in an apartment? And what would your dream home look like? How many rooms would it have? How many floors? Would it have a garden? A verandah? A driveway? And what would you be willing to do in order to find and to keep living in this place? How hard would you work? What sacrifices would you make? How much money would you spend?

Wendy and Philip, I’m not sure if you are aware of this. But, by your choice of scripture readings today, you are actually sharing with us your answers to these questions. You are telling us where you wish to live. What you want your home to look like. And what you are prepared to do to keep living in this place.

In the first reading, from the book of Genesis, after creating the first man and woman, God gives them the whole world for them to live in. Now this may not seem surprising to us. Of course, you have to choose to live in the world. Where else can you live? But God doesn’t just tell the first man and woman to live in the world. God also teaches them how to make the world their home. Be fruitful, God says, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth…

But what does this mean? What does it mean to be fruitful? To be masters of the earth? Is it just a matter of bearing more and more children? Or simply to be able to make everything else in the world do whatever we want? Is that all it takes to be at home on this earth? As you know, my dear friends, later on in the story, the first man and woman do eventually have children. But they do not feel at home in the world. In fact, out of jealousy, their first child, Cain, kills the second one, Abel. And then, as punishment, Cain is made wander homeless over the face of the earth.

In the same way, we can live in the world, but still not feel at home in it. We may even live in a big house. Drive an expensive car. Wear nice clothes. Have plenty of children. But still feel as though something important was missing. Still feel like homeless people. So what must we do to be at home here on this earth? Where and how exactly must we live? Jesus gives us the answer to these questions in the gospel. As the Father has loved me, he says, so I have loved you. Remain in my love.

Remain in my love. My dear friends, this is the house that Jesus has prepared for us. The place he wants us to call home. The love that he has for us. The love that he showed us when he chose to come among us as an innocent and helpless baby. When he died for us on the Cross. And was raised to life on the Third Day. This is the love that Jesus means. The place we can truly call home. Where we can find lasting joy. Even on this earth. Even when we may face difficulties. Even in the midst of trouble of any kind. As Jesus says, I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. The love of Christ, the Son of God, who gave his life to set us free. This is the place that you, Philip and Wendy, are choosing to call home.

But how do we find this place? And what must we do to keep living there? The second reading tells us that our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active. It is, of course, important to tell people that we love them. And we hope that you, Wendy and Philip, will never stop telling each other that. But, as we all know, love is shown more in deeds than in words. It’s quite pointless, for example, for me to keep telling my spouse and children that I love them, if I never feel the need to spend quality time with them. Similarly, we show our love for God not just by talking, but by also by acting. By doing what God wants. By making time and space, in our daily lives, for God and for others. To live the way Jesus lived. Lives of loving service.

This is what you, Wendy and Philip, are committing yourselves to do. This is the place that you are choosing to make your home. Not just a particular country or district. Not just a big house or a posh condominium. Not just a residence that can be bought and sold. More than anywhere else, the place that you are choosing to call home is the love of God, shown to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And, by our presence here today, the rest of us are committing ourselves to help you live in this special place. To support you by our friendship. Especially in times when it becomes difficult to remain in love. Times when the thrill of the honeymoon may have slipped away from memory. And the burdens of daily routine may seem too heavy to bear. Especially in times like these, we all need people to help remind us of the promises we have made. People who are themselves also trying live where we have chosen to live. To live in love. To live in Christ. To live in God.

This, my dear friends, is what we are celebrating today. Not just a union of two lives. But also a community’s commitment to keep living in the same place. To keep sharing a common home.

Philip and Wendy, my dear friends, what are we prepared to do to continue living in the joyful home of God’s love today?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spiritual Makeover


3rd Sunday of Easter (B)

Picture: cc David Pacey

Sisters and brothers, do you sometimes feel bored with your life? Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in a rut? Needing to experience something new? To break out of your dull routine? What do you do? How do you go about renewing yourself? Some people get a makeover. They change their appearance. They dye their hair. Do their nails. Draw their eyebrows. Change their wardrobe. Diet and exercise… And then there are others who, instead of changing the way they look, change the things they own. They get a flashier car. A bigger house. A newer phone. Maybe even a younger wife... Or a richer husband…

But what if all these changes are just not enough? What if you still feel stuck? What if you need more than just a renovation of your looks? Or an updating of your belongings? What if what you need is a spiritual makeover? What do you do then?

I believe this is the question that our Mass readings help us to answer on this 3rd Sunday of Easter. In the gospel, it’s quite clear that the disciples are badly in need of a spiritual makeover. We know this from the way they react to the appearance of the Risen Christ. The reading tells us that they were in a state of alarm and fright, because they thought they were seeing a ghost.

A ghost, as you know, is a creature that is stuck. Something that’s supposed to be dead and gone. But that refuses to leave. Is unable to leave. Remaining, instead, to haunt places and people. To cause a disturbance. To act as a painful reminder of unfinished business. Of stubborn grudges and suppressed guilt. Of squandered opportunities and bitter regrets. Of unmourned losses and ignored pain. In the gospel, the disciples are haunted. Not just by the death of Jesus. But also by how they abandoned and denied him. Their Master and Friend. In the gospel, the disciples are stuck in the rut of their own guilt and shame. Unable to move on.

Which is why the Risen Christ appears to them in the first place. To get them unstuck. To give them a spiritual makeover. And it’s helpful for us to pay close attention to how Jesus does this. Notice that he takes great care to convince the disciples that he is not a ghost. Touch me and see for yourselves, he says. A ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have. He even takes the trouble to eat a piece of fish in front of them. By doing this, Jesus shows the disciples that the damage caused by the Crucifixion has been repaired. The One who died has now been raised. More importantly, he doesn’t hold a grudge against them, for their weakness and cowardice.

A ghost appears to haunt and to frighten. To accuse and to blame. But the Risen Christ is not a ghost. He is not stuck. He is not a thing of the past. But a promise for the future. He comes to bless and to console. To reconcile and to renew. Peace be with you! All the disciples have to do, to get unstuck, is to humbly accept this gift. The precious gift of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. To receive it and to bear witness to it before the whole world.

And this is exactly what Peter does in the first reading. He bears witness to the Resurrection. And notice how he does it. Notice that he follows the same steps that Jesus takes. He first proclaims the marvellous news of how the terrible effects of sin have already been reversed. You killed the prince of life, he says. God, however, raised him from the dead. Peter does not act like a ghost. He doesn’t haunt the people. Doesn’t just recall their faults to make them feel bad about their past. Instead, he points them to the future. He shares with them the incredible news that their ruptured relationship with God has already been renewed. All they have to do now is to claim the gift for themselves. To repent and turn to God. So that their sins may be wiped out. So that, like Peter and his companions, they too can become unstuck. Pointed in a new direction. Given a spiritual makeover.

But what does it mean to repent and turn to God? What does repentance look like in practice? Is it just a matter of being baptised at the Easter Vigil? Or going to confession in Lent? Or coming to Mass once a week? Or saying our prayers every day? All these things are important, of course. But they are not enough. The second reading tells us what more is required. We can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments. By doing what God wants. By living, everyday, according to the wishes of God.

And this includes acting the way Peter acts in the first reading. Doing what the Risen Christ does in the gospel. Helping the people around us to get unstuck. Teaching them how to move on. Not by haunting and accusing them. Or judging and blaming them. But by encouraging and inspiring them. By reminding them that the Crucified Christ has already been raised. And because Christ has been raised, their sins have already been forgiven. Forgiven not because they deserve it. But because God insists on loving them. On renewing their lives. On being their friend.

This is what it means to repent and to turn to God. Not just to try our best not to do wrong. But also to help others to do what is right. To obey the command of the Risen Christ to go and bear witness to the Resurrection. To proclaim the good news of God’s love and mercy and compassion. For it is only when we do this that our own lives can truly be renewed. It is only when we help others to get unstuck that our lives are given a new direction. As the second reading tells us, when anyone does obey what he has said, God’s love comes to perfection in him. We enjoy more fully the benefits of God’s love by sharing it with others. We enter more deeply the Mystery of the Resurrection by bearing witness to its power in our world.

Isn’t this what the Easter season is about? It’s a time for us to deepen our appreciation of God’s love for us shown in the Dying and Rising of Christ. First, by remembering and celebrating how our own sins have already been forgiven. As we are doing now at this Eucharist. How Christ has already gotten us unstuck. Has already pointed us in a new direction. And then, by going out and sharing this good news with others. With our family and friends. With our colleagues and acquaintances. And even with our enemies and strangers. With anyone who needs to experience the power of the Resurrection.

Sisters and brothers, Easter is a time of renewal. God wishes to refresh us. To point our lives in a new direction. Do you need a spiritual makeover today?
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

When In Rome...



2nd Sunday of Easter
(Divine Mercy Sunday)

Picture: cc Joe Ross

When in Rome-dot-dot-dot. 

Sisters and brothers, can you complete the sentence for me? Of course you can, right? It’s simple. When in Rome... do as the Romans do. We’re all familiar with this proverb. We know what it means. When in a foreign place, try your best to blend in. To follow what everyone else is doing. That’s good advice. At least for the most part. It helps us to learn from the locals. And to avoid trouble. But surely the proverb holds true only for the most part. And not all of the time. Not in every situation. Why do I say that?

Well, what if the Romans happen to be cannibals? What if they feast on human flesh? And what if they practice human sacrifice? What if they even offer the lives of their own children in worship to their local gods? What are we to do then? Are we still to do as the Romans do? Shall we simply continue to imitate them? Just for the sake of blending in? Just to avoid trouble?

Of course, that is one option we can choose. To go to a foreign place and do exactly what the people there do. But that’s not the only option. We can also refuse to imitate them. Refrain from doing what we consider to be wrong. We can choose to continue keeping to what our conscience teaches us to be right. And we can do this in two ways. Or rather at two locations. First, we can choose to do this from the safety of our own home. That’s to say, we can refuse to travel to Rome in the first place.

Which is, of course, the easier option. The far safer choice. The one that avoids trouble. The other option is much harder. Which is to actually insist on keeping to our own values while living in a foreign land. Among a strange people. Even if it gets us into trouble. To choose this last option is really to rewrite our proverb. And to do it not just with our lips. But with our lives. No longer when in Rome, do as the Romans do. But when in Rome, keep doing what your conscience says is right. No matter the cost.

If this last option sounds really stupid and reckless. Then we can perhaps begin to understand how the disciples must be feeling in the gospel today. As they huddle together in that room with the doors closed, for fear of the Jews. They have just witnessed the horrible fate of their Lord and Master and Friend. He travelled from his heavenly home to a foreign land. To their own sin-soaked world. On a mission of mercy. To teach people how to live differently. How to act no longer out of selfishness and fear. But out of love and compassion. And so to enter into the fullness of life. Yet, for all his trouble on their behalf, they sent Jesus to his death. A most painful and disgraceful death.

What possible reason then can the disciples have for wanting to follow in the Lord’s footsteps. To die as he died. To be disgraced as he was disgraced. Surely, what happened to Jesus is proof enough that the proverb should be strictly followed. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or else, don’t go to Rome at all. If you insist on doing what is right, then better to lock your doors and remain at home. Better to stay far away from all foreigners.

Sounds like good advice. Sounds like the prudent thing to do. And yet, that is precisely the mistaken choice that the Risen Christ comes to correct. To those who have been frightened out of their wits. Scared into hiding behind locked doors. Jesus comes on another mission of mercy. First to console. By word and by deed. He says to the disciples, Peace be with you. Then he shows them his hands and his side. And they are filled with joy. Their pain and sorrow transformed into gladness and delight. They rejoice because the One who had died lives again.

But Jesus doesn’t just console. He also commissions. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you. Sending you away from the apparent safety of home. Sending you out into the messy and dangerous world. On the same mission of mercy that I received from my Father. To live the same way I lived. The way I taught you to live it. And to do it with the courage and joy that I am now imparting to you. In the Holy Spirit. The courage and joy that comes from knowing that I am alive. The courage and joy that comes from believing that, even if you have to suffer, even if you have to lay down your life as I did, you too will be raised. You too will enter the fullness of life. And not just you. But also those who accept what you say. Those who choose to follow me.

To be consoled and commissioned. To be supported and sent out. To live, in this world, the values of the world to come. This, my dear friends, is the dangerous yet joyful experience of Easter. An experience that has concrete effects. Effects described for us in the first reading. Where we’re told that the whole group of believers was united, heart and soul. And this unity is shown in a very concrete way. Everything they owned was held in common. So that none of their members was ever in want. Social historians tell us that their works of charity and mercy were what set the early Christians apart from the rest of society at that time. The disciples lived in the world. But they did not do what the rest of the world did. And, as a result, they sometimes had to pay the price for standing out. Persecution. Suffering. Even death.

And yet, many persevered. Why? How? By holding firm to what the second reading teaches us today. That anyone who has been begotten by God has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world–our faith. And this victory is shown in charity and mercy. In the willingness to be sent out into the world. To live no longer for ourselves but for others. To live differently from the world. So that the world might be saved.

Sisters and brothers, this is what Easter is all about. This is what the Resurrection means. Victory. The victory of mercy over selfishness. Of charity over indifference. Of life over destruction. This is the faith that our readings invite us to profess. And to live out. Joyfully and courageously. In our own world today. For, like the early Christians, we too live in a sin-soaked society. Which operates in ways contrary to the gospel. Ways that may even look like cannibalism and human sacrifice. Privileged people (including myself) maintaining our privileged lifestyles by feeding (knowingly or not) upon the broken bodies and difficult lives of the underprivileged. And grownups sacrificing their children (more or less knowingly) to the idols of money and success.

Sisters and brothers, can we deny that these things still happen today? In this modern world of ours? And if we can’t, then surely we must ask ourselves what we Christians are prepared to do about it. The options are clear. We can live in the world in exactly the same way as everyone else. Hiding our faith behind locked doors. Professing it only with our lips. Within the safe air-conditioned confines of this church. One to two hours a week. Or we can let ourselves be sent out by our Crucified and Risen Lord. To live in charity and mercy. In justice and peace. In courage and joy.

When in Rome-dot-dot-dot.

Sisters and brothers, how will you be choosing to complete this proverb with your life today?

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Through A Glass Darkly


Easter Sunday

Picture: cc Dave

Sisters and brothers, have you ever tried looking through a glass window or door? Like the doors of this church, for example? What do you see? Well, it depends, right? If the space on the other side of the glass is brightly lit, then you see whatever is there. But what if that space is dark? What if it’s much darker than your side of the glass? Well then, very likely, all you’ll see is your own image reflected back at you. Which can be quite frustrating. What do you do then?

Busybody that I am, I sometimes try to take a closer look. I go right up to the glass. Cup my hands around my face. And stare hard into the dark. Hoping to see something. But if even such extraordinary efforts don’t yield any results, I usually give up. I continue on my own merry way. On my side of the glass. Forgetting what might be there on the other side. Until, perhaps, the next time I happen to pass by again.

Looking through a darkened pane of glass. Isn’t this a good image of what life is like? Mostly, we go through our days so busy with our many concerns that we don’t bother to think about whether or not there may be another side to things. A deeper side. A side that can help us make sense of everything else. Of course, there are times when we may be drawn to pause. To take a break from our frantic dashing about. And to try to peer through the glass. To try to penetrate the meaning of life. But it’s not easy. All too often our view is clouded by the burdens and pleasures of daily living. So that all we see is our own reflection. And when that happens, it’s easy just to give up. To stop looking. To continue, merrily or not, on our usual way.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that the desire to discover what’s on the other side of the glass doesn’t really leave us. It remains. Hidden somewhere at the back of our minds. Buried within the inner recesses of our hearts. Waiting for the right moment to surface. And there are times when this desire grows especially strong. Times of crisis, for example. A career setback, or a failed relationship. A serious illness, or a death in the family... But what can we do then? How are we to see through the darkened glass in a moment of crisis, if we haven’t already learned to do so in a time of relative calm?

Sisters and brothers, I think this is the question that our Mass readings help us to ponder, on this first day of Easter. In the gospel, Mary of Magdala and the other disciples are facing a terrible crisis. The man whom they were following. The one on whom they had pinned all their hopes. Whom they believed to be the Messiah. Has died. And he has died a most brutal death. An utterly disgraceful death. A death that puts into question everything they had believed him to be. What are they to do now? How will they carry on?

Mary does what her heart draws her to do. She goes back to the place where her master’s body was laid. Probably to mourn and to weep. But what she finds there shocks and upsets her. The stone had been moved away. In the darkness of her grief, Mary assumes the worst. They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him. Wrapped up tightly in the pain of her loss, Mary is unable to penetrate the Mystery of the Empty Tomb. Much like what happens when we try to look through darkened glass, all she sees is her own reflection.

And yet, to her credit, Mary does not give up. Her love is too great. There is no possibility of her simply walking away. She rushes off. But only to call for help. Then she returns to the darkness of the Empty Tomb. And, painful and confusing though it may be, she stubbornly continues to gaze into the depths of the Mystery. She stares into that darkened surface. Hoping that somehow, when the time is right, the light will begin to shine.

And it does. Gradually it does. In the reading, although the Risen Christ is still hidden from view, enough light is already shining for at least one of Mary’s companions to identify the signs of new life. The disciple whom Jesus loved gazes through the darkened glass of the Empty Tomb. And his eyes begin to penetrate the Mystery. He saw and he believed. And not just him. Shortly after this, Mary herself too will see. She too will believe. And life on this side of the glass will never be the same again.

For what the disciples see turns their lives around. Transforms them into the very thing that Peter claims to be in the first reading. No longer grieving orphans and fearful victims. But brave witnesses to the Crucified and Risen One. We have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead, Peter exclaims. And he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people.

But that’s not all. The transformation is not just something that happens only once in the past. It is an ongoing process. A continual exercise of looking at things we do not understand. And learning to recognise signs of new life. Isn’t this what brings Peter to the home of Cornelius in the first place? Cornelius, as we may remember, is a gentile. A Roman centurion. Ordinarily, a good Jew would not visit such a person. Considering him unclean. But just before receiving the invitation to Cornelius’ home, Peter had seen a vision. In which the Lord had told him not to call unclean what God had made clean. The vision provides Peter with light to see gentiles like Cornelius with new eyes. So that the same thing that happened to the disciples at the Empty Tomb, now happens to Peter at the home of a believing gentile. He sees and he believes. He hears and he obeys. And a whole family is ushered into the fullness of life.

All of which helps us to better understand what is meant in the second reading, when it tells us to look for the things that are in heaven. To let our thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth. It is not that we are forbidden to look at or think about whatever we may find in the world. That would be impossible. But we should look at our world always through the darkened glass of faith. Always through the Mystery of the Dying and Rising of the Lord. And we should do this especially with the things that confuse and upset us most. The things that we understand and value least. The various crises that we may encounter in our lives. The different classes of people whom we neglect. Or against whom we may be prejudiced. For here we find the Empty Tombs of our lives. Here are the places where the light of the Crucified and Risen One is waiting to shine. So as to transform us. And, through us, the rest of our waiting world.

Sisters and brothers, today, after 40 penitential days of Lent, we begin 50 joyful days of Easter. 50 days devoted to letting the light of Christ penetrate the darkness of our hearts and our world. 50 days of gazing into Empty Tombs and at believing gentiles. Waiting for the Risen One to enlighten and to transform. To inspire and to empower...

Sisters and brothers, what must you do to continue gazing steadily into the darkened glass today?
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