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Being Easter people


Recently it seemed that Australia had a ‘Swift’ mania moment, with the visit of the American singer Taylor Swift. While knowing nothing about her music, the effects of her visit on so many are extraordinary.

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I was talking to a young woman who told me about a forthcoming trip she was to make, with a few friends, to the Taylor Swift concert in Sydney. She was so excited and said she knew most of the American singer’s songs by heart. For her it was a longed-for moment, even if it was in a stadium with thousands of other people. Just to ‘be there’ and get a glimpse was enough to make all the cost and effort worthwhile. I hope I catch up with her again to see how it went.

This reminds me that we all need transfigurative moments in our lives. The moments which do not simply take our minds off our current difficulties – global warming, the cost of living, the homeless crisis, all the countries at war in our world – but the moments where we glimpse that things can be different.

The desert fathers have a story about a young monk who asked an older one ‘how come that so many people set out to be good, and so many people come here to join this monastery, but after some time they leave again or give up the effort?’

The old monk thought for a while and then answered: ‘Sometimes as you stand here in front of the monastery you will see a rabbit pass by pursued by the village dogs, barking and howling. After some time the rabbit comes back but there are only one or two dogs in pursuit. These are the dogs who actually saw the rabbit – the others were only following the barking. Likewise, if we are to persevere in our pursuit we must have had a glimpse of the rabbit – who is the Lord – and not just be following the barking.’

Easter is one of those moments of seeing the rabbit and knowing just what it is we are seeing and why we give our all to follow it.

The desolation of Jesus on Good (Holy) Friday is complete. The joy of Easter would seem impossible. Yet at Easter we not only see a glimpse of what will be, an encouragement not based on optimism but on hope, but also dare to believe that we too can share in the gift of eternal life.

At the transfiguration of Jesus, the disciples needed a glimpse of God to sustain them. They were going to be disappointed in Jesus as he would be in them. We must never forget that the disciples had a very limited understanding of what Jesus was about.

They had some idea of the Messiah but the only way in which they could imagine his role was that he should drive out the Romans and deliver the people from political oppression.

However, Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world and instead of being lifted up on a throne as a king, becoming a political leader, he was lifted up on a cross to die as a criminal.

While all of this was happening, the disciples proved themselves to be disloyal and cowardly. So they needed a memory, a glimpse of glory, which they got in the transfiguration, to sustain them when their hopes about Jesus were shattered and they had to face their own failure.

They got a glimpse of God, a glimpse of glory, at the transfiguration and that was to sustain them through the disgrace of Jesus and through their own failure.

As for the disciples, so to for each of us, and for all of us together. Each of us, no matter what our role is, needs that renewal of our baptismal grace. Might we be an instrument of that?

At Easter we renew our baptismal promises where we turn away from those things which keep us from sharing in God’s life and we choose wholeheartedly to turn toward the Risen One and dare to hope that the glimpse of new life be ours, not only now but for all eternity.

All of us at each stage of life’s journey need that encouragement that comes from a glimpse. We can see what can happens when a group of people dream. Now more than ever, we need to be Easter people.

That is what Pope Francis is calling the whole of the Church to be – Easter people. It is precisely this kind of transformation; not to freeze the moment of presence but rather to have this Easter moment, and glimpse the rabbit, for this will do much to give us courage on our weary yet ‘joy-full’ journey. Dare we glimpse? Dare we allow others even if they follow the barking to glimpse the rabbit?

God is good, good indeed! Wishing you a happy and blessed Easter.

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