Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Resurrection Is No Fairy Tale

The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, happened in time, not once upon a time.  It is not a story of fictional characters but real people, flawed people who betrayed and abandoned him.  It is not a story of a victory won through violence or vengeance, but with the words of peace spoken by the one who shows his fatal wounds, now healed to those who abandoned and denied him.

The resurrection is an explosive event that has influenced our history and fashions us in hope and the knowledge that death is powerless to love and mercy.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a fairy tale - but its truth continues to permeate all of our lives, even our fairy takes.  I recently watched Disney's latest fairy tale, "Frozen," and this truth was there.  Spoiler Alert.  

Queen Elsa has accidentally afflicted her sister Anna with a spell that has frozen her heart and soon will take her life.  The only thing that can save her is an act of true love.  But just as an act of love seems to draw near, the afflicted Anna runs to stop the blow of a sword that will kill her sister the Queen.  Her courage saves Elsa, but time has run out for Anna, she is frozen and takes her last breath.  But watch what happens. 

You sacrificed yourself for me?  That is the question we speak aloud to our Lord today.  It is the question and the truth that permeates our fairy tales and our everyday lives.  That God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that we might have life.  Happy Easter.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Whose fault is it?

A few weeks ago, after celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation with our Religious Education students I was fielding questions from them.  After a question about the crucifix, one young person asked me, whose fault was it that Jesus was crucified.  I was caught off guard and tried to quickly form an answer that the children would understand.  First I mentioned Judas, then the Jewish leaders who did not understand Jesus and then I mentioned the Romans who feared a revolution.  But then I caught myself and simply said, "It doesn't matter."  It doesn't matter, I said, because it is not as important as the result.  What matters is that Jesus rose from the dead, that crucifixion did not destroy him or the Father's plan for our salvation.

So often in life when we experience a tragedy, we react by trying to determine fault.  While understanding the cause of one's sorrow is certainly helpful in preventing another failure, the pursuit of fault never brings healing in of itself.  Knowing who is to blame and punishing those who are responsible are steps in a process of justice but are not necessarily helpful in healing the wound.

A priest friend often responds to a failed situation by saying, "its my fault," even if it clearly isn't and the notion of the problem being his fault is absurd.  He responds this way because, he says, getting blame out of the way allows us to move on and solve the problem.  As we begin this Holy Week, I think this approach makes sense.

Whose fault is sin and suffering in the world?  God the Father does not answer the question but submits the Son to the cross, so that innocent one pays the price of  punishment for the fault and the sinner can now be redeemed.

Whose fault is the crucifixion?  It is our fault, yours and mine.  We were not there historically but we share in the same sins that lead the innocent one to be put to death.  When we admit our fault, confess our sins and seek absolution we are healed from the wounds of our sin.

The Exsultet which is the proclamation sung at the Easter Vigil, states very beautifully, "O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!"  This is our spirit as we begin Holy Week.  We enter with hearts and minds not seeking a justification that comes from blame but instead we seek to rejoice over a justification that comes from love.