Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Whisper of Victory

The weight of evil and suffering can sometimes feel as though it crushes everything out of life.  Those who gathered around the tomb of Lazarus four days after his death must have felt the crushing weight of evil upon them.  It's the same today.  What are some of the bad things that we see and hear?

A priest does something that causes scandal.  A family is separated.  A story of children who suffer from hunger.  The death of a young person.  The priest with whom I live mentions that in his village in Haiti people have to walk for two hours in order to get water.  These things--and countless other accounts of suffering--can leave us like the mourners at the tomb of Lazarus.  All there is to do is weep.

But over and over again, I am convinced that a mere ounce of grace is greater than all of the evil in the entire world.

Last night, I chatted with a group of seminarians.  They were young, filled with joy, and chomping at the bit to be servants of Christ's Gospel.  Today, our parish will honor a newly ordained priest who served here while in the seminary.  In this priest and in these seminarians, one discovers that the presence of Christ at any tomb, introduces the new creation.

Today the 10:30 Mass was packed,  As folks were piling out of Mass at the end, I saw the father of a 23 year old man whom I buried this week.  The death of that young man is crushing.  The presence of his father at Mass today was for me a taste of the presence of Christ--the Resurrection and the Life.

There is indeed hunger and poverty throughout the world, but the piles of food stacked in the back of church this morning introduced love into that suffering.  And, as I was shaking hands with people as they left Mass, one mother told me that her little daughter had something to tell me.  So, I bent down to hear what (3 year old?) Amelia had to say.  She whispered in my ear, "When I grow up I am going to be a doctor, but I am going to give all of my money away to the poor."

In front of every tomb--be it sin, alienation, poverty, illness, even death--Christ introduces something totally new.  His presence shatters the seemingly unbreakable weight of suffering, evil, and death and drains from these burdens all of their illusory power.  Many came to believe in Jesus because they saw Lazarus raised from the dead.  Christians are called to make Christ present at all of the tombs of today.  And this presence is enough to defeat the most impossible of situations.

For many Catholics, once they've experienced Eucharistic Adoration, they experience firsthand how the quiet presence of Christ in the Eucharist rescues them from the clamor of evil and suffering.  In His presence, they find rest from their labors.  In the Eucharist, Christ allows us to taste firsthand the fruits of the Ressurrected life.  But, Christ also makes himself present in the world through the presence of his disciples.

Christ comes to the tombs of today in the joy of a seminarian, the presence of a mourning father at Mass, and in the whisper of a little child.  Christians carry within themselves and make present the victory of Christ.

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