By Fr. Tom Hurley
Sunday, April 16, 2017
HAPPY EASTER! How good it is for us to be here today to celebrate the Resurrection! In my own name and on behalf of all those who make this Church come alive each day, welcome to all of you who have entered this sanctuary for the very time today. We are thrilled and overjoyed to welcome so many people who have come to celebrate again the mysteries of Faith and our shared call to be witnesses of the Resurrection in our world today. If you’ve come from the West Loop, the suburbs, or you are visiting Chicago this Easter weekend, please know that it is our privilege to open wide our doors in the spirit of radical hospitality, for which Old St. Pat’s has become widely known. If you’re here for the first time or perhaps you’ve not been to church in a long while, just know how grateful we are that you are here today and what a blessing it is to celebrate the cornerstone of our faith together on this Easter day.
In a very short article on the mysteries of Easter, author and biblical scholar Ronald Witherup reflects on the city of Jerusalem. During Holy Week, we hear a lot about Jerusalem as the place of suffering, death, and resurrection. Often times, we think of Jerusalem as strictly a metropolitan location on the map and solely as a “place” where people jeered, violence erupted, fearful disciples huddled in upper rooms, ‘doubting’ Thomas wandered, and post-resurrection sightings were reported. But as Witherup points out, no one develops the iconic religious perspective of Jerusalem more than St. Luke in his gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles. After the Resurrection, Jerusalem itself takes on a whole new meaning and the place where Jesus’ earthly life ends will now be the place where the mission of the church begins. Thus, Jerusalem is more than just a location; it’s more than just an old city 6,000 miles away from Chicago. It’s a symbol, a reborn entity that will be the source and destiny of our life in God. Prophets, psalmists, and other biblical writers saw Jerusalem in a whole new way. They saw their place of misery and challenge to be a place transformed by God’s power and God’s call to live anew.
Back in February, I had the privilege of being in Jerusalem with other members of Old St. Pat’s. While it was sacred, fun, and spiritually moving to walk amidst the old streets of Jerusalem and Galilee, nothing captured me more than what all this meant to my life back in Chicago. If the Resurrection is about living within the New Jerusalem and doing as the Risen Lord had instructed his disciples, “Go to Galilee, that’s where you will see me,” then it seems to me that the New Jerusalem is right here in the upper Midwest. Where will we encounter the Risen One? Right here in the Land of Lincoln, in the Windy City! All that took place two millennia ago in Jerusalem on that first Easter morning is the renewed vision of what we are called to live today right here in our city.
You see, Good Friday is over. We are a people of Easter Sunday, always and eternal. That’s our message and that is our mission for the world in which we live. Against the backdrop of violence that plagues our city and has infested so many parts of our world, the Easter mission is to envision a New Jerusalem, a New Chicago, a New Humanity. Let Easter renew not only our vision of Jerusalem, but let it renew our offices, our homes, our neighborhoods, our friendships, our Church, and our young. Let the vision of what Jerusalem could be drive human hearts to envision what Syria can be, what North Lawndale can be, what lower Wacker can be, what Egypt can be, and what we can be.
I hope and pray this will not just be “another Easter” for us. I hope it will be the start of something new in our lives as people of Faith. May the joy and hope of the New and Eternal Jerusalem stir within us so the world will see in us the beauty of the Risen Christ.
A Blessed and Hopeful Easter to you!
Father Tom Hurley