Easter carries the message of Christ to us; it sums up what Christ came to say to us. Easter is the feast of new life. In Christ’s Resurrection, we see the new life that Christ promised to His followers.
Christ had a most optimistic view of human beings. He thought that human beings could be perfect. He thought that human beings could act like God. Jesus saw that we could love, that we could forgive just as God does. Human beings can live without hatred, without resentments. We can live without violence. The power to be like this is within us.
However, a lot of other things are within us too. We are very naturally inclined to be angry and resentful. An inclination to violence runs very deep within us. You look at any movie, any play or novel, and the solution to the plot is almost always violent or a threat of violence. In our present state, we may have the power within us to be loving like God, but it is not likely that we will use it. The pull to be less than what we are is very strong. We can do it, but the odds are against it.
Jesus did not care about odds. He saw what the human race could be. He certainly knew that the whole human race would not embrace their full potential any time soon. But, Jesus also saw what each human could be. If the human race is not going to achieve perfection any time soon, that does not mean that any one individual cannot.
This is the vision Jesus had of us. The human race may wallow in self interest, but individual persons still can be all that God wants. There have been a lot of wars, but there also has been a Paul of Tarsus, an Augustine, a Francis of Assisi, a Therese of Lisieux. Christ brings new life in the Resurrection - for me, for you.
Fr. James O'Leary
“Were not our hearts burning inside us as He spoke to us on the road?” Luke 24
This burning heart business, how do we keep it going? I wonder about those two disciples. I wonder how long their hearts were burning over the message or the person of Jesus. I would be willing to bet the burning lasted a lifetime. But it was not the same as on the road to Emmaus. Nothing sustains that kind of enthusiasm permanently. But we do want to keep burning.
How long do married couples keep their burning going after the wedding? I hope the love goes on forever, but almost certainly, the passion will not. I must admit, after a wedding when I hear them singing, “Please Release Me” on the way out of church, it does give me an uneasy feeling. Just kidding! But, how do we keep the flame of enthusiasm alive?
If we live on the surface of life, we will never make it. If we are to keep enthusiasm for our commitments, we have to dig deep within ourselves. We usually think of the “burning”, the enthusiasm, as a spontaneous emotion. It is that, and it feels wonderful. But such spontaneous emotions do not last long. In life, love and enthusiasm must become an act of the will. We are enthused because we decide to be. We love because we choose to. This is not supposed to be easy. Commitments are never easy.
We know that we cannot go through life in a high state of hysteria. We see people who try, and they can be a real trial. I know people who try to be brimming with happiness every single minute. Spare me! That is simply not real. But we can keep some burning going on in our hearts. The love of God does not have to be just another reality we take for granted.
When God comes for us at the hour of our death, may He find us still burning for His Presence.
- Fr. James O'Leary