Happy Easter! Even though we don’t exchange gifts or send out cards, today is the
most significant day on the Christian calendar. It celebrates the day that death became irrelevant and eternal life became a fact.
Last week I introduced the theological question raised by Fr. John Dunne,
CSC: if I know that I will die someday, what can I do to satisfy my desire to live forever?
The glib answer is live forever. Now. No waiting period required! It’s not that
we deny death’s truth. Rather, we refuse to let death control our lives. We make
death irrelevant. People who have decided to live forever do not fear physical death.
They see physical death as a transition and are willing to take certain risks for truth orfor the good of others, even if such risks could result in their own physical death.In explaining his theory of the relativity of time, Einstein suggested putting your hand on a hot stove for 30 seconds. It seems like a lot longer. Spend 30 seconds with someone you really love. It went too fast. Positive experiences seem to end too quickly and negative experiences seem to last too long, while the actual length of time is exactly the same.
We can live our lives with our hands always on a hot stove or we can live them always in the presence of love. The second is what we mean by eternal life. When we take our hand off of the stove and have it treated by someone we love we have moved beyond death to eternal life. We come back from the dead. We rise again. Like Jesus,
we live our lives by loving everyone with whom we share the planet.
How does it happen? That’s for the Einsteins to figure out. We just have to experience it.
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There were four separate ceremonies in the Archdiocese this year, welcoming those
who had decided to join the Church or confirm their membership in it. Each one filled the very large church building in which it was held. I found myself wondering why, in the midst of horrific scandals, so many people were looking to the very source of those scandals for meaning and completion. I imagine there are as many reasons as there are people, but among our parish’s own candidates, a few common themes emerge: looking for something deeper in their own lives; feeling an inner call; having had some sort of resurrection experience and wanting to take some action to sanctify it. Clearly, people are able to separate the sin of the Church from its basic message, or Good News.
The reasoning might be something like: “I know that some people, including some in
positions of leadership, have not lived the message of the Church, but that does not
detract from the value of its message.” There is a need or want to belong to something that transcends daily life. They have found that something in the Church that insists on Resurrection. So can we all. Let’s join our new members as we enter the realm of eternal life.