From The Blog

Monthly Meditation – May 2011

(Fr. Patrick’s Pascha Sermon—2011)  

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Christ is Risen!  Let us take a moment to rest on this long beautiful night, which has begun with a few interesting moments.  Wouldn’t you say?  The fire alarm, switching around a couple of hymns, bell ringers forgetting to turn on the microphone, candle cups catching fire; but that’s all okay because this night is not about all those things.  It’s nice when things go well, but more important is our faith in God, our unity in love for one another, and our confession of faith in the Risen Christ.

It’s always my blessing this time of year to meet with everyone for the sacrament of Holy Confession.  This year there was a very interesting, common theme due to all that is going in our state, nation and world.  A lot of people are concerned.  And that’s okay.  It’s okay to be alert to what’s going on around us; and to participate with humility when necessary.  But when we do there will always be the struggle not to get caught up in [the moment].  To not allow our worldly fears and concerns to dominate us in ways that affect our relationships with each other and our ability to witness to our salvation in the risen Christ is challenging.  For in Christ all these things really mean nothing, other than for us to learn how to love one another.  Yes, this is a great challenge.

Tonight when I was trying to rest before the service I turned on the television because I had heard the “Ten Commandments” was on (“Moses, Moses, Moses!”).  There was a beautiful scene after Moses’ identity was revealed and he was sent to the mud pits to make clay with the Hebrew slaves.  There was an old man in the pit who started to talk back to one of the Egyptian guards
and the guard threw an axe at him and it pierced his side and eventually killed him.  There in the pit Moses picked up the old man and carried him to the edge, and the man said him, “If I would have just lived to see the Deliverer.”  In this case the Hebrews were waiting for someone to deliver them from their bondage to the Egyptians, but even more important is the waiting for the Deliverer of men from sin and death.  This is what we celebrate today!

We have seen.  We have received.  We have been given the blessing of seeing and knowing the Deliverer – the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.  It was only God who could save us.  Moses saved for a time as he led the Hebrew people out of bondage.  It would finally take the coming of the Christ to lead all men out from slavery to the devil.  And so He has!  We have been made free.  And in this freedom hopefully we can celebrate and be ready to defend.  My concern, however, is over the concerns of the people relating to the things going on in the world today.  It worried me that there was not enough concern for the freedom in Christ and too much concern for what may seem at times a lack of freedom in this world.  For we know where the Scripture says, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?”  And so we fight for our souls and try to remain free from our worldly cares.  This is a difficult challenge when everything around is descending into drama, anger, and passion.  It’s easy to attach our horses to that wagon and go down the wrong path.  The scary thing is
wondering, what are we looking for?  Are we looking for someone in this world, this city, this state, this nation, to come forward and “deliver” us from our problems and make secure our lives in this world?  If that’s the case we’re looking for the wrong “deliverer.”  For indeed one day someone will come who seems benevolent and will offer the solutions we areall looking for, and if that’s all we want we’re going to take them like a fish takes to water.  And that’s scary.  Because we know in the prophesies someday, this generation, or the next, or the next – who knows? – that benevolent man will turn malevolent and there will be a price to pay.  Maybe we’ll have gained the security of this world, but maybe at the expense of our souls.

We’ve just come through a forty day fast plus Holy Week.  Why do we do these things?  Why?  Is it simply an exercise to lose a few pounds?  I hope not.  Tonight when we finally get to the end of the service and we joyfully sing “Christ is Risen!” and bless the eggs, the cheese, the meat, the wine and start to celebrate, I hope that’s not what all this has been for.  I mean that’s all good and I can’t wait, but hopefully all our fasting and our prayers and our worship is here to teach us how to solely rely on God.  To rely solely on our Deliverer and not on the things of this world which so easily take us in and try to convince us that they’re the most important: our jobs, our bank accounts, our homes, our families, all of our possessions – again, blessings given to us by God not to dominate us but to serve us, so that we might serve the living God.

Hopefully our preparations for this night have taught us a little something about serving the living God.  And indeed He is living, and for those who have come to know Him, hopefully like all of us in this room to one degree or another, we are ready to dedicate ourselves more and more fully, especially coming to the end of this holy season, and celebrating the greatest Feast of all feasts, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!  Coming to the end we are ready to rededicate ourselves in the joy of our Lord, in the confirmation of our faith, in the fullness of our lives, united with one another in our families, in our church, and if so be it with those around us, even with those with whom we disagree,  in the way we love and care for one another, and the way in which we do not let ourselves get caught up in the distractions of this life which, unfortunately, often times more than not, end up dividing us rather than uniting us.

I am very thankful for this day and to be here with all of you.  It is my joy.  After fifteen years here at St. Ignatius things only get better.  The concerns of this life don’t go away and I pray for you and for myself that we not get caught up in those dramas, because when we keep that one thing most important in our lives it’s going to allow us to remain at peace in the inner man and to give us greater strength to live out the fact that we are living with the Risen Christ – that our Deliverer has come and we are free.  God help us to be free, and to praise Him, and to remember His blessing as we go out and serve each and every day.  Christ is Risen!