Just a Thought…
If you missed the Lenten Speaker series, I hope you will take advantage of our updated technology capabilities and enjoy the podcast of the four speakers who blessed and challenged Old St. Pat’s these past number of weeks. The words of our friend, Fr. Michael Pfleger strike me again in a particular way as we listen to the words of John’s Gospel on this Second Sunday of Easter. Mike Pfleger spoke of how the world of Church is a dangerous place, or better yet how the Church needs to be a more dangerous, riskier place. Mike said, and I agree, that Jesus was a risk-taker and where Jesus preached and healed was not in the “friendly confines” of a safe, comfortable place, but rather in the rough-and-tough areas of the world. Think about that today as we consider this post-Easter story from St. John: his disciples are scared and they are in a room behind a locked door. They feared for their lives! He shows them his wounds and they probe the marks of danger and violence. The first followers knew that in the outside world, there was, waiting for them, many who would reject them or tell them to keep quiet. The life of Church is tricky, difficult, and messy stuff. We have certainly seen that played out once again this past week. Consider as well the ongoing stories that we will continue to tell from the Acts of the Apostles. Sometimes I think we forget how difficult it was for that early Church to get started. There was a culture and a leadership that did not accept or appreciate their message, or as they referred to their movement, the following of Jesus: The Way. That early Christian community had a tough time and as the Easter festival unfolds, we will hear again the turbulent trials the early Church faced.
I think most days the early Church was no different from our own today. We hit turbulence and being church is not easy stuff. There are arguments and disagreements. There are mistakes and controversies. But what I appreciate about today’s Gospel from John is that the very breath of God, the presence of the Risen One, would lead and guide them. Being Church is dangerous business. Living the Gospel is not for the faint of heart. Standing up for the poor, protecting the life of the vulnerable, bringing the marginalized back to the center, proclaiming hope to those knocked down by the uninvited consequences of life, eradicating forms of violence, and confronting injustice is not easy work. Would it not be easier just to run, hide, and lock the door? With God’s help, may the breath of courage and the mandate of peace guide us to be a more effective, transparent, credible sign of Resurrection and New Life for the world around us.
May these days of Easter give us more courage, more voice, and more fidelity to the Gospel we are called to live. May our prayer be united in a special way to Mike Pfleger and the people of St. Sabina during these difficult days. May Peace come to them.
Thank you for creating a very special and sacred experience of Holy Week and Easter. I am overwhelmed (again) and humbled by the goodness of so many people (probably in the area of ten thousand) who entered these doors and the mysteries of Holy Week. Our staff and volunteers are tremendously gifted and marvelous hosts. I am proud and grateful to be a part of this with all of you.
Fr. Tom Hurley