Easter: Seeing With the Eyes of Love
I think it is safe to assume that most of us have our favorite authors; writers whose style and ability to compose ideas and stories we find attractive and enlightening. In the world of theology, as in pretty much any of our individual academic or vocational disciplines, we have our favorites as well. Admittedly, the other day, in anticipation of getting some thoughts together for this year’s Easter celebration, I felt kind of stuck. Not a lot of ideas were entering my noggin with respect to the Easter message this year. So I did what most of us would do: I Googled one of my favorites. I am so glad I did. He is a prolific author and his insights into the Gospel are rich with relevant thoughts, provocative imagery, and meaningful metaphor. He is highly regarded in the world of theology.
I am withholding his name for a reason because there was a sad twist in all of this for me. As I sat at my computer Googling his name and searching for potentially the best entry on which to “click,” I could not help but notice that among the many entries associated with his name, one of them was under the heading: The Heresy Hunters. Curious as to what “The Heresy Hunters” was all about (although I had a sneaking suspicion), I “clicked” onto their website and immediately an article from this favorite theologian came up and after almost every sentence in this particular article of “my favorite,” there was a commentary with some of the most arrogant theological “correcting” I have ever read. “They” shredded his article “up and down” and left absolutely no room for any saving grace in his theological ideas, let alone his person. According to “them,” everything was wrong and nothing was right with respect to this accomplished theologian and his theological thoughts. Obviously “The Heresy Hunters” are not as fond of my favorite theologian as I guess I am.
I guess the saddest parts of websites like those are the “blog” entries at the bottom of the page. Wow, it is incredible how vicious people can be. I probably wasted too much time sitting at my desk being disappointed as I read some of the most negative, vile comments people were making about an individual, calling into question his abilities as a priest, his questionable identity as a Catholic, and ultimately his worthiness of being a Christian. When done anonymously, as most blogs are, it is amazing how cruel people can be as they see only through the lens of negativity, criticism, and judgment. Even the name of their website makes me cringe.
What perhaps is even more ironic in all of this is that I found an article my “hero” wrote a couple of years ago with respect to Easter. At the heart of his deeply spiritual insight is the fact that the only way we experience the Resurrection is if we see with the eyes of love. Basing his reflections off of St. John’s Easter Morning Gospel, this favorite theologian wrote: “God never overpowers, never twists arms, never pushes your face into something so as to take away your freedom… Jesus’ rising from the dead was not a brute slap in the face to his critics, a non-negotiable fact that left skeptics with nothing to say. The resurrection did not make a big splash. It was not some spectacular event that exploded into the world as the highlight on the evening news. After he rose from the dead, Jesus was seen by some, but not by others; understood by some, but not by others. Some got his meaning and it changed their lives, others were indifferent to him, and still others understood what had happened, hardened their hearts against it, and tried to destroy its truth… Why the difference? What makes some see the resurrection while others do not? What lets some understand the mystery and embrace it, while others are left in indifference or hatred? When we look at anything through the eyes of love, we see correctly, understand, and properly appropriate its mystery. The reverse is also true. When we look at anything through eyes that are jaded, cynical, jealous, or bitter, we will not see correctly, will not understand, and will not properly appropriate its mystery.”
This favored theologian of mine spoke further of the characters involved in John’s Easter story: like Mary of Magdala who goes with spices in hand and finds an empty tomb and runs to tell others what she discovered. Peter and the Beloved Disciple run to the tomb and their experience is so different: one sees and is perplexed; the other sees through the lens of love and he “gets it!”
How do we look at Easter this year? When we see with the eyes of love, the Resurrection becomes possible for us. When we open ourselves to the thoughts and ideas of others, despite our differences, we see all that is possible. Easter is not about seeing what we want to see; it is about removing the blindness of our jaded attitudes in order to see and experience again and again the brilliance of Resurrection: the possibility of life, of hope, of love coming forth from tombs once sealed (minds and hearts that are closed) and experiencing the mysteries of God all around us. As we give thanks on this Easter for open tombs, may we ask God to help us open our minds, our hearts, and our eyes to see how we have been blessed and more importantly to see the work of justice and peace that lies before us.
Thank you for being here today at Old St. Patrick’s Church.
Fr. Tom Hurley