The Work of the Holy Spirit in Our Lives

Reflection for the 7th Sunday of Easter by FAN Board Treasurer, Br. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our May 22nd newsletter

St.James Holy Spirit Window“I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

The Celebration of the Ascension always reminds me of the various times of goodbyes and moving on in our lives. Change is never easy. Moving is always a challenge to us and to our family and friends. It’s also a time to look at our lives, accept what seems to be the right thing to do, and then start afresh, hopefully with a better vision, plan or purpose.

Someone once said that intimacy is always a work in progress. It’s never a done deal, and if you come from an Irish heritage, you are always awaiting for another shoe to drop.

So it was with the very first disciples and followers of Jesus. Jesus had been taken from their midst and nailed to the Cross, died, and then rose from the dead. All this to prepare them and us for the Gift of the Holy Spirit; for the power and inspiration that we need to do what Jesus had done. It is only the Holy Spirit who can touch and change our hearts and the lives of others.

I recently read, “The World Will Be Saved by Beauty” written by the granddaughter of Dorothy Day. Through this intimate yet honest portrait, I was able to see how the Spirit of God can move us to embrace our lives and family as they are. Knowing that God has a plan and mission for each one of us.

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives shows us that we need to come anew into our hearts and lives. So, let us all pray; Come Holy Spirit, set our hearts afire with True Love of God, so that all will say, “See how they love one another”!

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Treasurer

Published in: on May 23, 2017 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

A Reason for Our Hope

Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter by FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 15th newsletter

HopeAs I reflect on the readings for this Sunday I wonder, am I really attentive to the great love that God bestows upon me, upon us, upon all people? Our gracious and generous God has blessed us with Incarnate Love, the gift of Christ, become one with us so that we may know God’s great desire to dwell with us.

God’s generosity does not stop there! As we hear Jesus proclaim in the gospel, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.”

Our Triune God, the dynamic presence of relationship, Father/Creator, Christ/Sanctifier, Spirit/Advocate is continuously gracious and generative. God continually invites us into this Divine Relationship of overflowing Love, to be one with Love. How do we give voice and witness to this deep, generative love of God in our world today?

Granted, we are faced with overwhelming challenges of terrorism, violence, poverty, hunger, human exploitation and trafficking, and mounting pollution and degradation of our land, air and water. We listen to national and world leaders calling for isolationism, nationalism, and protectionism, forgetting that every nation and all people live on this one single planet, till the same soil, and breathe the same air.

The vision and words of these leaders are being called into question, as they should be, because their message seems to have gone so far afield from the wisdom and truth of the gospel. As we continue to be underwhelmed by the message of popular leaders, we are called and challenged to be the clarion call that we hear in the first Letter of Peter, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”

I often hear and read Franciscan scholar, Br. Bill Short, OFM, use this text as a foundation for our Franciscan presence, spirituality and theology needed in our world today. Br. Bill states, “People are seeking an alternative language – an alternate way of looking at the human person, the meaning of the Church, and its place in the world, who God is, what Christ represents, what salvation or creation means in our day. We have a hopeful word to speak to the concerns present in today’s Church and to the crises affecting our society.”

Are we always ready to give the explanation for our hope? Recently, I had another opportunity to speak at a premier of the Sultan and the Saint, this time in Orlando, FL. Before and after every premier I am attentive to the people gathering, welcoming and thanking them for coming and for the work they are doing to bring the message of peace to their community. At this Orlando premier as I was greeting people an older Muslim woman approached me and thanked me for being there. She asked me if I was a nun. I told her, “Yes, I am a Franciscan sister.” I felt her look deeply into me as she exclaimed, “This is wonderful! You have dedicated your life to God and to God alone. This is a great witness to all of us. Thank you. We need people to know this.” She then asked if we could give each other a hug.

Her words, this encounter, still resonates within me, especially in light of our scriptures. We all need to reveal and recognize the dynamic presence of God’s love with us and within every one of us   by our very presence, by connecting person to person. We need to explain and give witness to our hope, the dynamic gift of love that we are called to invite others to share.

On April 25, 2017 Pope Francis spoke via video at a TED conference of people gathered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His message was one of encounter as he stated, “Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.” The Pope called for a ‘revolution of tenderness.’ “And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands.”

For those who have not had the opportunity, I urge you to watch and listen to Pope Francis’ TED talk on hope and tenderness. If you have watched it, I invite you to watch it again and be open to the encounter of hope and of love.

As we reflect and prepare to encounter Christ and one another in the Eucharistic feast, let us also be ready to go forth, incarnating love and be ready to give the explanation to anyone who asks for the reason for our hope. And remember to always do it with gentleness, tenderness, and reverence.

Margaret Magee, OSF
President of FAN

Published in: on May 16, 2017 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  

What Is Ours to Do

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter by FAN Board Member, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 8th newsletter

RainbowYears ago, while driving home with my family from celebrating a Mother’s Day dinner, there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky. I remembered the quote from this week’s Gospel, which was also the Gospel on that Mother’s Day many years ago: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, where I am you also will be.” (John 14: 1) I told my parents that I thought the rainbow was a sign from God for all the mothers who had lost a child that year. Today, as a grown daughter who lost her very precious and dear Mother a year ago, I know that a rainbow, and these words of Jesus, also may bring comfort and peace this Mother’s Day for children whose Mothers are now with God.

Perhaps it is because of the recent loss of my own Mom that my attention is drawn to news regarding how our nation is treating Mothers. Is our country seriously attempting to cut healthcare funding for maternity care? Are leaders of our country (i.e. the Attorney General and Homeland Security) having conversations about separating children from their mothers as they flee violence and attempt to enter the United States? Was our Attorney General referring to Mothers (or any human being) when, in his prepared speech to the border control in Nogales, Arizona, he referred to those crossing the border as “filth” (a word he omitted during the actual speech)? How many families are we tearing apart, how many Mothers are we separating from their children (including from at least one special needs child) through deportation?

St. Francis quoted this week’s Gospel as the first sentence in his Sacred Admonitions: “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life…” (John 14: 6) Throughout His public life, Jesus gave his disciples examples for all time of how genuine faith leads to action. Our baptismal mandate impels us to take action against injustice shown toward any Mother and toward any human being. This week’s Gospel assures that those who attempt to live lives following His Way, His Truth and His Life “will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.” (John 14: 12)   As Francis was dying he is attributed with saying to his brothers, “I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do.” In an Apostolic Letter dated 46 years ago Sunday, Pope Paul VI mirrors these words of St. Francis when he urges “Let everyone examine themselves, to see what they have done up to now, and what they ought to do. It is not enough to….point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action.” (Apostolic Letter, May 14, 1971 (48)) May we honor our Mothers today by asking Christ to teach us what is “ours to do,” and by taking effective actions against the injustices shown towards Mothers in our society.

Sister Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Secretary

Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Inconvenient Suffering

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

This reflection was originally posted in our May 1st newsletter

Patrick KneelingIn our first reading from Acts 2, Peter is preaching to a crowd, telling them to repent. At one point he says: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Peter could be preaching that exact same sentiment today. On Monday, April 24th, I knelt with other faith leaders in the rotunda of the senate office building and prayed. We were joined by several hundred faith leaders from Ecumenical Advocacy Days who circled us and joined us in our prayer. We were praying to protest the President’s proposed budget. We are hearing a great deal of chatter about how we need to cut spending, how we cannot afford programs like Meals on Wheels, how there is not enough money to protect the environment. There is talk about how we have to cut the deficit and how taxes are too high especially for the wealthy and corporations. Our leaders are looking at and talking as if our federal budget is an economic document, a balance sheet. The federal budget is not just an economic document; it is also a statement on the moral compass of our nation. As such, it should reflect our highest calling to take care of the most vulnerable and support a just, equitable society. The budget presented by President Trump has turned its back on that calling, as evidenced by the laundry list of programs and institutions being drained of resources in favor of expanding military spending and tax cuts for the wealthy.

After a few minutes of singing and praying we were arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail. In our second reading from 1 Peter it says: “If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called.” I would not classify my 8 hours in jail as suffering but as an inconvenience. Yet at times, I complained about how long it was taking. We talk about finding Jesus through our suffering but most of us have a difficult time with being inconvenienced. How often have we complained if Sunday Mass goes beyond one hour, never thinking that Jesus suffered horrific pain and agony for three hours hanging on the cross? We talk about the power of the cross, but we spend our time worshiping at the foot of the cross rather than doing what Jesus did; pick up our cross. That would take some serious inconvenience, maybe even some suffering, so we worship instead. Worship does not require much from us.

It is our desire for convenience and our propensity to think only of our immediate needs that have perpetuated the destructive systems currently in place which are causing global-scale environmental degradation. As people of faith, we are called to challenge this paradigm; to recognize that we truly have been gifted with the role of caring for this one planet we have to call home and that, in order to do so, we must examine our actions, we must listen, and we must work to strengthen the voices of those who are not being heard.

The 13th century theologian and Franciscan, St. Bonaventure is credited with saying that how we choose and what we choose makes a difference – first, in what we become by our choices and second, in what the world becomes by our choices. This framework of faith is neither radical nor conservative: it simply places justice, dignity, compassion, and solidarity at the core of decision making. That is what our leaders should incorporate in their budget deliberations.  In these extremely difficult times, we all need to rely on these principles.

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on May 2, 2017 at 8:57 am  Comments (1)  

Despite What You Might Have Heard, Oil Pipelines are Incompatible with Laudato Si’

By Jason Miller, FAN Director of Campaigns and Development

Jason Miller

I read with dismay Fr. Matthew Schneider’s recent piece in Crux, where he considers the question of whether using oil pipelines in the United States is morally licit. In the course of his piece, Fr. Schneider commits a “Black or White” logical fallacy by assuming that the only options are either oil pipelines or using trucks to transport oil across the country.  Although he uses the Pope’s words to back up his claim, the reality is that the Pope opposes this false dichotomy, and in fact challenges all of us to commit to ‘Caring for Our Common Home.’

In addressing the intent of Laudato Si, Fr. Schneider brings up an age-old tension: who exactly is the Pope speaking to when he comments on an issue of the day? In his encyclical, Pope Francis specifically mentions that he is addressing not only the entire Church, but “all people of goodwill.” In Laudato Si, Pope Francis is addressing the entire world. Rather than acknowledge the fact that Laudato Si is intended for a worldwide audience, Fr. Schneider uses the Pope’s statements to paint a very U.S.- centric view of fossil fuel use that ignores the effects that the hyper-industrialization of the first world has inflicted on the Global South.

When the Pope speaks of renewable energy being a work in progress, he’s acknowledging that in many parts of the world, the technology is not yet advanced enough to make renewable energy widely available. However, here in the United States the price of solar energy is dropping, and it is a growth industry that is already outpacing several fossil fuels. While oil pipelines may have at one time been necessary infrastructure, there is no reason why new oil pipelines should be built in the United States today. Fr. Schneider cites the importance of oil transport to our economy; however, the Keystone XL pipeline will transport the oil straight out of the country for use in overseas markets, and the project only creates 35 permanent jobs. In other words, there is no domestic benefit from the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Dakota Access Pipeline, the other pipeline mentioned by Fr. Schneider by name, would greatly impact the water supply of Native peoples, who have been systematically oppressed by the United States government since our nation began. The Dakota Access pipeline would be yet another injustice against a group of people that have suffered greatly for centuries. As the ‘water protectors’ like to remind us–people cannot drink oil. The creation of these pipelines lines the pockets of oil companies and puts the health and wellbeing of people at risk.

In 2015, I had the honor of joining Franciscans from all over the world–six different continents–for the COP negotiations in Paris. It was a true celebration of the worldwide Franciscan family and the many branches of the Franciscan family tree. One of the friars that was part of the delegation was from South India where they were experiencing massive flooding at the very time we were in Paris. The flooding was the worst that they had seen in 100 years and Fr. Nithiya could do little to help his people halfway around the world. In this instant, I realized that that example is exactly what Pope Francis in Laudato Si was telling those of us in the industrialized north: climate change isn’t just something we have to worry about for future generations but that it is affecting people in the here and now–both in America and around the world. Having heard the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, we have a great responsibility to shrink our massive carbon footprint.

As the world’s leading energy and carbon consumer, the United States has a major responsibility, one that the Pope acknowledges in Laudato Si. Climate change is not a far-off problem for our children or grandchildren, but rather, a grave issue for here and now, and one that is affecting our sisters and brothers across the world and even in some areas of the United States. We have an obligation to the rest of the world to lead the way when it comes to being good stewards of our earth. The creation of new pipelines does just the opposite—and robs the United States of any moral authority it may have when it comes to protecting our environment. The real choice that we must make in the United States to save our common home is not between oil pipelines and oil transporting trucks. Rather, the choice we face is between being the moral, responsible leader of the free world, claiming moral responsibility for our use of carbon and how that impacts the global south, or doing nothing as we watch our mother earth grow hotter and our brothers and sisters suffer.

Jason L. Miller is the Director of Campaigns and Development for the Franciscan Action Network, a steering committee people of the People’s Climate March on April 29th in Washington, D.C.

Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 10:28 am  Comments (1)  

Walking to Our Emmaus

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter by FAN Director of Advocacy, Sr. Maria Orlandini

This reflection was originally posted in our April 24th newsletter

Walking.pathOne of the things I really enjoy is walking. Some of my deepest insights have come to me while walking. Walking clears my head and allows me to see more clearly what the next step could be. The same is true when I walk with someone. It can lead to sharing things we are not able to say when face to face. Walking on the road to Emmaus can lead to “conversing about all the things that had occurred.”

I see this Sunday’s readings not only as the disciples’ chance to say what really is going on with Jesus, who he really is, but also an invitation to talk about what is happening within each of us.

In the reading from the book of Acts (2:14, 22-23), Peter tells his audience what was in his heart about Jesus and how important He was to him. He does the same in his letter first letter, telling his readers to “conduct yourself with reverence” because we are made for things much bigger than we can imagine and the resurrection of Jesus confirms it.

By approaching and walking with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus gave them the chance to say what was in their hearts, to vent their frustration and fear: “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” They only needed to be asked “what sort of things?” to open the floodgates, so to speak, and pour out their heart to a stranger, trying to make sense as they spoke of what happened to Jesus the Nazarene.

I would like to have a walk with Jesus this spring. So many things have happened, and there are so many questions about what is going on in our country and the world that it would only take the question, “What is going on, what are you troubled about as you walk?” for me to blurt out, “Are you the only one who does not know what is happening? What has happened in the past few months and how many people are struggling, me included, trying to make sense of it all?” I for sure could speak much longer than the length of the journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Why are we in this particular moment of history, and what is my role in it? How willing am I to believe that I am born anew in the blood of the Lamb each day?

Every day I take my walk with Jesus in prayer to confirm myself in the resolution that being a disciple is not a done deal. It is walking every moment in the awareness of being part of the journey of the world and that I have my little step to make. It is believing that I need to say who Jesus is for me, sometimes with more readiness. It is believing that I /we need a community that listens. One where we feed each other with hope and courage as well as being fed with the Bread and Wine of life. Being a disciple is having my heart burning within me, especially when I speak on behalf of refugees, immigrants, and trafficked persons; when I speak of gun violence, climate justice, and an economy that puts revenue at the top instead of people. Jesus walks with us this Easter season to remind us that the journey is long, but that on life’s journey we are not alone. We walk together, we have people to talk to, we can take time and invite others to “stay with us for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over,” so to refresh ourselves and recommit our lives to go out and spread the news that the Lord is truly risen. Alleluia!

Sr. Maria Orlandini
FAN Director of Advocacy

Published in: on April 25, 2017 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Believing Is Seeing

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter by FAN Board Member, Carolyn Townes

This reflection was originally posted in our April 17th newsletter

PEacefulOn every Second Sunday of Easter, we read John’s Gospel account of the disciples locked away in fear and Jesus appearing to them. Knowing their fear and trepidation, Jesus twice gives them his peace. Then, knowing their doubt, he shows them his crucifixion wounds. Yes, it is really the risen Lord and they do not need to be afraid. As he promised before his death, he breathed on them the power of the Holy Spirit.

What is interesting to note is Thomas is not with them during that first evening encounter. Thomas was not there to be greeted by the Lord’s peace. And he was not there to receive the breath of the Holy Spirit; thus the power to forgive sins. When the disciples finally saw Thomas, they told him they had seen the Lord. Thomas did what any one of us would have done – he disbelieved until he could see for himself. Until he could experience the risen Jesus for himself, he would not believe.

We all struggle through times of fear and doubt. When we are faced with significant changes in life, there is a certain amount of both these emotions; fear of what will happen and doubt that all will be well. In those moments of fear and doubt, we too have a difficult time believing. Is God really there? Does God hear my prayers? Yet, just as Jesus gave his peace to the fearful disciples on that first evening, he also gives his peace to us when we are afraid. And just as Jesus showed Thomas his wounds so that he may believe, he also shows us the way so that we may believe. But unlike Thomas, we must believe without seeing. As Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Peace, like love, can be a vague concept, especially in the American English language and culture. We have watered down the concept so that it does not have the same impact as in Jesus’ time. In that first century culture, extending peace to someone was profound and truly meant something. Today, it is consigned to symbols on placards and wishy washy handshakes. What if we were to revert back to that true meaning of peace? The peace that Jesus speaks of and extends. The peace that could calm troubled waters. How would you respond differently if that were the peace you received or gave? May the Risen Lord grant you his peace.

Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
U.S. Secular Franciscan Order
FAN Board Member

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  

“How Can I Keep from Singing?”

Reflection for Easter Sunday by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey

This reflection was originally posted in our April 10th newsletter

SingingThe title of the old Baptist hymn, one of my favorites, is framed as a question but is really a statement. “Above earth’s lamentations,” our Christian faith rests on the Resurrection of Jesus, and the promise of our resurrection, so we cannot keep from singing our Alleluia song. We sing not out of naiveté or denial of personal, national and global calamities, but out of faith in the enduring love of God confirmed in the life, suffering, death and Resurrection of Jesus. We Christians must be people of hope, singing our Alleluia song, even as we are keenly aware of sin, evil and suffering in the world. St. Augustine reminds us, “We are Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song.’ Let us sing ‘Alleluia’ here and now in this life, even though we are oppressed by various worries, so that we may sing it one day in the world to come, when we are set free from all anxiety.”

As the Easter Vigil and Easter morning gospels are read, our hearts are lifted at the opening phrase, “On the first day of the week…,” because we know the story that will unfold. We feel Mary Magdalene’s initial dismay and confusion at seeing the empty tomb, then follow her “and the other Mary” as they run, “fearful yet overjoyed,” to announce the amazing good news to the disciples. In Matthew’s account, they are met on the way by Jesus who assures them, “Do not be afraid” to go tell his brothers what they have witnessed.

Whatever burdens we carry this Easter, may we not be afraid to leave tombs of fear, doubt, discouragement or lamentation, and join in singing Easter’s Alleluia. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!”(Ps. 18) ALLELUIA!

Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on April 11, 2017 at 10:23 am  Comments (1)  

Ignoring Realities when the World is in Crisis

By FAN Intern, Chiara Klein

Chiara Klein

If we want to claim that we practice true compassion and awareness, we are called to bring injustice, violence, destruction, inequity, and suffering into the light. The irrefutable existence of climate change creates scenarios in which all of these layers are part of daily life for billions around the world. Refusing to put this reality into words does not make it disappear. Yet, this avoidance and obfuscation is apparently the chosen tactic of the Trump administration, evidenced by the latest development within the Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy (ICCE).

The staff of this office has allegedly been told not to use the words “climate change,” “emissions reductions,” or “Paris agreement” in any written communications or briefings. Not coincidentally, but somewhat ironically, ICCE is the only office at the DOE with the word climate in its name. DOE spokesperson Lindsey Geisler has denied these claims, and several State Department officials in other offices have said that there have not been formal instructions to avoid certain words but that there has been a conscious shift in language prompted by hints from transition staff, according to reporting by Politico. Whether acknowledged or not, this is censorship.

Censoring language around climate change reflects a disturbing refusal to acknowledge dangerous truths about the backwards steps that this administration is taking. It is no secret that President Trump has absolutely no regard for the state of our environment: the word ban came on the same day that President Trump signed an executive order to review and possibly begin to dismantle several powerful Obama-era regulations that would have significantly cut carbon emissions and protected clean water sources. He has made blatant attempts to render climate change and environmental degradation invisible because it doesn’t fit into his agenda. Meanwhile, our brothers and sisters around the world are dying of starvation and drought, or else struggling to put food on the table and battling health issues stemming from air pollution and water contamination. Many have found themselves climate refugees, having been forced to evacuate their homes and land due to changes in their local environment that have rendered it unlivable, such as massive flooding.

Climate change is creating a world of instability and suffering, and our government is quite literally looking the other way. This has passed the point of unacceptable politics: this is morally unconscionable. I have to hope that we still have time to be on the right side of history.

Published in: on April 5, 2017 at 8:47 am  Comments (2)  

Thy Kingdom Come

Reflection for Palm Sunday by FAN Executive Director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our April 3rd newsletter

JourneyThis Sunday we celebrate Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. Our services reenact the last week of Jesus’ earthly life and celebrate the eternal Christ on Easter Sunday. We sometimes think of this week as a play with separate acts. It is almost like the week was scripted and Jesus is just another character playing his role. A story was created of a vengeful God who demands a blood sacrifice to atone for something somebody did thousands upon thousands of years earlier. The crucifixion is sometimes viewed as a requirement to appease this angry God and the Resurrection as the happy ending of the story where Jesus goes to heaven so we can join him there later.

I often reflect on the question that two of our church’s greatest theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, often debated: “If original sin never happened would it have been necessary for Jesus to come?” One of the saints argued that Jesus came to heal us from our sin, and if there was no sin there would have been no reason for Jesus. The other saint argued that the crucifixion was not the main event but rather it was the Incarnation, the moment when God became human, that changed everything. The Incarnation didn’t happen so God could open the gates to some faraway place. It is not the end of the story, as John’s Gospel tells us, “God so loved the world that he sent his only son” (Jn. 3:16).  It is the next chapter in God’s first book, the book of creation. The incarnation is the beginning of the new creation, in which we all share in the power of the Spirit.

At the celebration of Palm Sunday we will reenact Jesus’ triumphant march into Jerusalem.  I have often read that Jesus had to come into Jerusalem riding on a donkey in order to fulfill the scripture. Most of the time we miss the historical significance of Jesus entering Jerusalem. It was the beginning of Passover and, at the same time, a period of unrest and upheaval. There was a lot of dissatisfaction with both the leaders of the government and the Jewish religious leaders. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate led his Roman soldiers into the city to quell this unrest. He marched in to show his military strength. He would use this military strength to quash any thoughts of rebellion. At the same time the religious leaders were also feeling threatened. This young upstart was challenging their authority and, in their eyes, leading people away from the tradition of Moses. It was in this setting that Jesus entered Jerusalem with his followers, riding a donkey, which at the time was considered a symbol of peace. Jesus didn’t enter Jerusalem so he could check off another box on a “to do” list or to complete a prophecy. He was challenging the authority of both the religious and government leaders. His actions were acts of nonviolent resistance.

As we relive the most sacred moments of this holiest of weeks, let’s remember that we are called by our Baptism to be priests and prophets. We are called to be a reflection of God.  St. John of the Cross taught us that human desire is unlimited. The heart of a human being is not satisfied with less than infinite. This infinite is clearly God.  Our deepest human desire is a desire for God. When we turn away from God, we no longer consider God’s creation and all that it encompasses as sacred. As a result, our unlimited human desire for God expresses itself in materialism and consumerism. We have lost our spiritual connection to God, and therefore experience the consequence of humanity with no God. We have traded away our call to be priests and prophets for a dogmatic contract where the most important thing is whether or not we’ve passed the moral exam.

As Christians, the prayer we pray most often is The Lord’s Prayer. In it, we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” What do we think Heaven is like? Do we think God would find it acceptable for children to be starving in Heaven while others live in big houses and waste food? If not, then why do we think God would find it okay on Earth? If Jesus came to continue the creation and start Heaven on Earth then shouldn’t we join together as truly the “Body of Christ”, as one connected to God and all of God’s creation, and start building the kingdom of Heaven on Earth?

Peace and All Good
Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on April 4, 2017 at 9:13 am  Comments (1)