Friday, April 5, 2013


              ...the earthly and the heavenly city penetrate each other...   
              ...the Church does not only communicate divine life to men [and women], 
           but in some ways casts the reflected light of that life over the entire earth,
           most of all by its healing and elevating impact on the dignity of the person, 
           by the way in which it strengthens the seams of human society and imbues
           the everyday activity of  men [and women] with a deeper meaning and
           importance.  Thus, through her individual members and her whole community, 
           the Church believes she can contribute greatly toward making the family of
          man and its history more human.  (Emphasis mine.)
                                                             Vatican II, The Church in the Modern World, No. 40

   Jesus' "everyday" human sacredness shows us in a special way that our humanity and this world are deeply sacred.  In his resurrection, he did not rise above his humanity and this world; he elevated them to a new level of meaning and importance.  Living at a higher level does not mean getting away from our humanity or from today's world.  We believe in a God who became human in the person of Jesus, who lived, worked, preached, suffered and died in the everyday world of his 1st century time and culture.  He then rose to a new level of life for all times and all cultures.

   Some of us still follow the culture of Medieval spirituality which, especially following the devastation of the Black Plague (14th century), stressed our sinfulness and the need for harsh repentance and suffering for our sins.  In contrast, our 21st century spiritual culture stresses our deep, discerning and prophetic involvement in the structures of today's society.  We get involved in order to develop the fullest possible meaning and importance of our individual and common humanity, thereby helping one another and our world evolve.  (Such involvement will also result in various kinds of sacrifice and suffering.  In Central and South America, involvement has sometimes meant being murdered; here in the U. S., involvement in social justice can mean being ignored by people who just don't care.)

   A negative example may help us better understand the wonder of Easter.  Atheists say that we can be fully human without God.  For example, some say we can use our reason to arrive at a moral way to live.  We don't need a God to give us the Commandments; we could have figured out on our own that it is wrong to dishonor our parents, to steal, lie, kill, commit adultery, and covet.

  In a way, they're right.  Long before Moses climbed Mt. Sinai, people had already figured out the basic moral principles of human conduct.  What the Commandments say is that these moral principles are not just the products of human reasoning but are the very way God created us and expects us to live.  Atheists tend to see that adding God to our natural life is like adding icing on a cake.  They say they can remove the icing and still have the cake.  We say that first of all, God created both the cake and the icing, so that without God, neither would exist in the first place.  We would then use the clearer example of leaven in bread.  Once the bread is baked, (i.e., created) the leaven and bread are one, inseparable thing.  Our faith-enlightened message is that without God, there would be no human reasoning because there would be no humans.  In fact, there would be no earth and no universe.

   Easter-time is a call to us to further clarify our faith and elevate our individual lives and the structures of our society to a new level of meaning and sacredness.  It is a time for greater and deeper commitment and involvement.  Christ is risen!  Yet, people are suffering.  Waiting is not an option.

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