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Sunday Readings for May 8, 2011 (3EasterA)
By Fr. John Foley, S. J.
Do this thought experiment with me.
Suppose you and I are walking, maybe last week, along a civilized road, and a stranger starts strolling with us.
“What are you discussing as you walk along?” he asks with ease.
We stop. One of us, maybe you, says to him, “Are you the only person in the world ignorant of these last decades and these centuries, the things that have happened in them?”
He replies, “What sort of things?”
You say, “We had promised to continue Christ’s works, to revere his presence, to preserve his love so it could overflow through us to everyone.” Your eyes shift away. “But now nations are at war, the Church is fragmented, its promises broken, and we have betrayed his mission.”
“Betrayed?” the visitor asks.
“Ah yes,” you reply. “A number of our own priests and even Bishops have gone against the very mission they were sent to preach. Predators, they have become, some of them. And churches are closing in our cities, and dioceses are going bankrupt! Only a few are entering the priesthood now—how are we going to have sacraments?”
I gesture to you with a “calm down” motion, but you go right on talking.
“We have crucified Christ all over again! Oh, we were hoping that he would make the whole world come right! What are we to do?”
The stranger says quietly, “How slow of heart you are to believe all that the prophets spoke. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and so bring the world into his glory?”
You stutter a reply. “What do you mean, suffer these things—and do it again? Why would he get caught in the horrors of Nazi Germany, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Bosnia and Rwanda and Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and. . .”
He raises his hand. He begins to tell you about references in scripture. He begins with Moses and the prophets. His voice is very kind. He shows how God had endlessly sought a loving relationship with his people, and that they would enter into it for a while but then would turn their backs on him and run away. Battles and wars, belief and unbelief, rich versus poor—and worst of all, neglect of the sick, the very ones who have been aching for love.
He tells us that there actually is a way for the human heart to say Yes to God and mean it. “One human being has done it on behalf of us all,” he says, “one who is human as well as divine—to the core—and who will not stop trusting God. Not even when trapped in the depth, the mindless pool of suffering and death. As often as you and others like you join with God in this human being’s faithfulness and love, the world will be changed.”
He walks with us some more and even comes in to stay with us. We offer him food. He takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to us, along with wine. My body, he says. My blood.
You are calm now and so am I. You whisper, “Maybe the resurrection did happen!” We both nod. We have recognized him. We saw him in the breaking of the bread.
And now we see him in the breaking bones of the world.