I hope everyone is having a Happy Easter.
I thought I’d share one more Easter memory to complement my last post, “Daddy’s Easter Basket.” It’s a memory from Good Friday, 1978. Driving along I-20 near Atlanta, listening to a Christian radio station, I heard the DJ introduce a new album titled The Lord’s Supper by a singer called John Michael Talbot. As I listened to the album, played in its entirety that Good Friday afternoon, the music overwhelmed me and put me into a spirit of worship that is hard to describe even to this day.
I became an instant John Michael Talbot (JMT) fan.
Today, as I pondered the thought of sharing an Easter greeting, I opened an email from JMT and read his Easter greeting. My immediate response was, “I could not have said it better myself.” So this Easter 2019, some 40 years after hearing JMT for the first time, I am again impressed by his message. So much so, I think it worthy to pass on and share with you. Happy Easter everyone!
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
We live in a time in our world and culture where we desperately need good news, and Jesus brings us good news! He is risen from the dead! He has overcome the powers of darkness and death! The crucifixion on Calvary was not an end and defeat, but only a doorway of Mystery and Paradox that culminates in spiritual and physical resurrection and the new life. It is the dawn of a completely new era that lasts forever!
The bad news is obvious. Politics and culture are more divided than I have ever seen in my lifetime, and I lived through the 60s! 🙂 The Church is mired in sex scandals from within, and persecution from without, not to mention the apparent mediocrity of our liturgies and spirituality. Frustration, anger, and eventually discouragement and complacency are rampant.
On a personal level, I do not see myself represented in either the parties of our political system today. Likewise, the more Spirit-filled and theologically balanced Catholic Church that I joined in the late 1970s seems nearly absent from the current polarizations of neoconservatives and radical progressives. The days of finding the best in both, and integrating them into a healthy whole seems to be an experience long forgotten.
But Easter gives me great hope! Jesus steps outside of human politics, and even religion, to teach us an essential spirituality and lifestyle of faith and morality that potentially underlies and renews all politics and religion. In Christ I am still able to see the best of human potential in culture and politics. I am also able to see the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the Presence of Jesus in every Eucharistic liturgy. This new vision brings everything to life in a whole new way! Easter is a time when the victory of that outlook is manifested for all to see.
This Easter I encourage all of us not to get stuck in anger or polarization that ultimately leads to discouragement and complacency about the world around us. Scripture says that the world, and all its empty promises are passing away. Only Jesus remains forever! Scripture says, “Put no trust in princes, in mortal men in whom there is no help… we put our trust in the Lord.”
We focus on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the world to come in a way that tangibly brings the reign of God “on earth as it is in heaven.” Anger and polarization, discouragement and complacency, or what the desert fathers and mothers called, “the noonday devil,” come from focusing on the world or on an egocentric approach to life and even spirituality. It is the fiercest of all the devils. It sets us up for disappointment, frustration, anger, discouragement and complacency. It tries to get us to give up, and to go back to the world. This devil leads to death. Jesus not only leads to life, but is Himself “the way, the truth, and the life.”
This Easter dare to believe in the risen Christ! Focus on Jesus, not on the problems of the world or the Church, and then we will become positive instruments of change both in the Church and in world!
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
John Michael Talbot, Founder, Spiritual Father and General Minister, The Brothers and Sisters of Charity, Little Portion Hermitage
Note: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.com