Active Participants in Building God’s Kingdom

Reflection for the third Sunday of Easter, written by FAN Executive Director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally published in our April 13th newsletter.

This Sunday we continue our journey through the Easter season by celebrating the third Sunday of Easter. It might be a good time to go back and reflect on what the Paschal Triduum really means for us. Ritual is very important in our faith journey. In our personal lives we have rituals that connect us. At gatherings we may offer certain prayers or songs. I have an uncle who is 94 years old. Uncle Jim was born in Belfast, Ireland. He still lives by himself. Our family gatherings are not complete until Uncle Jim gets up and sings an Irish rebel song. It is a ritual that our children and grandchildren talk about. It is often discussed as to who will carry on the ritual after Uncle Jim passes on. Did we spend time participating and thinking about the rituals of the Triduum and how they affect our lives? Or are they just some nice ritual that has no meaning?


On Holy Thursday at my church, St James, we do not just have a symbolic washing of the feet, a gesture where the priest washes the feet of a Deacon then moves on. We set up washing stations throughout the church and everybody participates in washing each other’s feet. Because of this ritual and others where everyone participates, not just observes, the service is over two hours long and the church, which is quite large, is packed. People leave talking about how transformative it is to have their feet washed and to wash a stranger’s feet. Is our faith based on us just being observers, things like attending Mass, or are we active participants in building God’s kingdom here on Earth?


In Sunday’s second reading, from 1 John, we are told “Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.” These are pretty harsh words. We are often told it is not polite to call people liars. What are the Commandments that John is talking about? The Gospels give us an idea about what John means by this passage. In Mark 12 Jesus tells us the most important Commandment is “to love God with your whole heart” and second and just as important is “to love your neighbor as yourself.” In Matthew 25 we are told that “what you do to the least of my brethren you do onto me.” In Matthew 6 we are told that you “cannot love both God and money.”

The vast majority of members of Congress claim to be Christians. They claim to know and follow Jesus. More than 160 claim to be Catholic. But do their actions show that they are keeping the commandments? When they vote to cut food stamps to give tax cuts to the wealthy do they really know Jesus? I heard a congressman asked how he could be a Christian and not welcome the stranger. His reply was startling. He said “I am a Christian but I am an American first.” I wonder what Jesus would have said to him?

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on April 14, 2015 at 8:54 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Patrick, your post is certainly thought-provoking. I ask myself, “How closely do my actions match who I say that I am?” What will I do today to show that I truly believe that everyone matters? Thanks for the work you do to build the kingdom.

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