Dear Friends in the Risen Christ,
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would [people] believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” Such words remind me of how we can look at Easter from different perspectives: Was the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead a one-time cosmic event or is it something more enduring and pervasive, continuing to dynamically unfold every moment of our lives? I’m going with the latter! I need Easter to be relevant in the here and now, guiding me to live in hope of a God whose love and generosity will, if God so chooses, raise me from the dead as well. In the meantime, what do I do with my one chance to live this life, on Earth, that will make a lasting and life-giving difference to the people with whom I share the journey?
Last Saturday afternoon, two folding tables were set up in the Mary Chapel to accommodate a very hard-working committee charged with leading our parish’s Synod on the Family listening process. It marked the culmination of two weeks of meetings, in which nearly 100 voices from our parish were heard and acknowledged. The results of our various listening sessions have now been synthesized and sent on to Future Church for presentation to the Vatican. What effect they will have upon the Synod remains to be seen but that’s where hope and resurrection come into play again. Upon receiving our data, the executive director of Future Church responded: “Your community and parish sound amazing! What a gift you are to us.” Many thanks to all of you who participated in and lead this important endeavor.
From most indications given by our Holy Father Pope Francis, the Church is moving toward a new birth. Signs of resurrection are everywhere, from the pope’s own words and actions to the appointment of more forward thinking leaders around the world. I don’t want to jinx us but we seem to be moving closer than ever to a church that is more inclusive, more loving, and more apostolic. This is not to say that the predecessors of Francis or the earlier manifestations of the Church were ineffective or even disconnected with its mission. If the history of our faith proves anything, it’s that the Spirit of Christ has been active in our Church since the very first Pentecost. But today seems different. It’s as though “Emerson’s stars” have appeared again in a new and brighter way. This should give us hope in resurrection and a new determination to be leaven for the Kingdom of God.
As for life back here on 16th Street, Easter will be for us what it always has been --a great feast and vibrant celebration of our risen Lord and all that makes us Xavier. So much has happened since the last time we found ourselves here on the holiest day of our year. Some of our dear friends have gone on to meet Christ in their own experience of resurrection. New friends have joined us, through our wonderful RCIA program or on their own. Weddings and baptisms have risen in number. Many of our sick have been comforted. We have confronted the problem of modern-day slavery and human trafficking in so many ways. Pipes have burst. Lights went dark. Bread and wine were offered to God as gifts, too many times to count. Sins have been forgiven. Complaints and compliments about all kinds of things have crossed your pastor’s desk. All the while, Emerson’s stars were there, whether visible or not, preserving “for many generations, the remembrance of the City of God.”
Easter has arrived again and, with it, comes a long awaited spring. Please know how very grateful I am for all of you and that you remain in my prayers. Happy and blessed Easter, good people of St. Francis Xavier! The Lord is risen and the stars are out and shining!