Sister Doreen’s Reflections
Jesus said: “Reach out your hands, Thomas …
Thomas replied: “My Master! My God!”
(John 20: 27 – 28)
If we choose to follow Jesus then in every circumstance in our life this is the place of the gospel, the good news. This is the place where the marks of Jesus are visible, where people hear their names called with love, where people break open their lives to share them, where people bear witness. This is where Jesus finds us, knows us, loves us, heals us, set us free and calls us to follow. The place of the gospel is the world.
Beyond Easter we know the place of the gospel is the world, where all of us prodigal folks are called to show what it means to be generous in human relationships, where we show we are trying to live together with differences, where we seek to heal what is broken, reunite what is separated and re-create the face of the earth.
“Beyond Easter we know the place of the gospel is never abstract or academic, nor is it theoretical and dogmatic. It is always the place of engagement with the world. It is the place where the Word becomes flesh, where we can see the marks of the nails in the side … “ (Kathy Galloway – Iona Community). She follows this comment with a poem called “Thomas” written by Kate Mcllhagga, part of that poem I share:
“… Put out your hand, Thomas,
Touch, Thomas, the gaping wounds
Of my world.
Feel, Thomas the primal wound
Of my people.
Reach out your hands Thomas,
And place them at the side of the poor.
Grasp my hand, Thomas, and believe.”
Beyond Easter we are to put out our hands, to be set free from narrow nationalism, blind ideology, superstitious and lazy religion, servitude to violence within and war without, the deadly division of race and class and ideology – the anger, the violence, the exploitation of this broken and beautiful world. Beyond Easter, now it is our task to live out, in hard, hard work – and yet joyful discipline, the gift of new life in the midst of the suffering of the world, with God’s help.
It is hard, hard work as we are often like the walking wounded, the ones who need to be reminded that there is a love that will not let us go. I am reminded of one of Dr. Seuss’ books “On Beyond Zebra” in which he writes “In the places I go there are things that I see that I never could spell if I stopped with the Z. I’m telling you this because you’re one of my friends. My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!” Beyond Easter, Jesus’ story continues with us. Easter is not the culmination of the story, but the beginning. We are to keep looking for new words and worlds to describe the indefatigable love of God that breathed us into being, holds us as we walk through the circumstances of our days, and welcomes us when have fallen with open arms of compassion and forgiveness. Everything becomes an altar of forgiveness and belonging.
We all know what it feels like to completely screw up, we all know what it feels like to feel hungry for hope, and we all know what it feels like to be loved back into being. This is the task of Beyond Easter.
In the prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict “With the good that are in us we must obey God at all times”, Joan Chittister writes in a short commentary “The gifts we have been given – our abilities, our personality, our feelings – are given to us for the good of others. That we “love one another” and care for them, and give life to them is the will of God that we’re meant to obey.”
Beyond Easter – perhaps St Teresa of Avila said it the most clearly:
“Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassionately on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.”