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An Easter people

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... one is not only an observer but an able participant in bringing the salvation one has experienced to the persons and situations locally, nationally and globally.

Father James
Ronan

"There is an appointed time for everything and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die ..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).

This ancient teaching from sacred Scripture always helps me to put into perspective the times and movements of my life. It is God who sets the times that unfold in each of our days. The amount of time we have and the events that come and go each day so often are gifts from the one who created time, and you and me as well. Exactly how we use this gift of time... ahhh, that is our choice and one we wrestle with continually. And yet, God never abandons us. From the beginning of time and the first moments of each person's life, God is present and attentive to us. The centerpiece of God's effort to be in our lives as a source of hope and love is Easter.

This is the time. Every power for good or for evil that is, that has been, and could ever be is matched and put aside by this event. There simply is no story that holds out for you and me more importance than what we recall and what we live because of the Easter event. In our birth, we are born to life; in our baptism we are born to new life. In our death, we leave this life and are born into eternal life. Easter is the light, not only at the end of our journey, but also along the way. We celebrate that in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we become a new people, a people of the light.

What does it mean for you and me today to be Easter people? From my perspective, it means a few things. My view of time is changed; I think I am more aware of and comfortable with mortality, knowing that through death, we come to rest in the arms of God. To live in the light of Easter, for me, means a new freedom. Actually, this freedom is at the core of the Christian's life. It is the promise made long ago that God would save us and it is realized at Easter.

What does it mean to be "saved"? The personal experience of this freedom plays itself out in one's day-to-day world: one's sense of self, one's awareness of others, one's capacity to love and to be loved, one's compulsion to reach out and be a source of healing and light and hope wherever it is needed. To be saved is not only some yet to be experienced moment leading to eternity. It is also a freeing of the capacity to be fully human with beauty and foolishness, with gifts and weaknesses allowing oneself to be transformed and brought to a place of hope and joy in the midst of fear and anguish.

What happens in the particular -- namely, me and someone else -- has direct implications for the community in which we live and extends into the world of which we are a part. Recognizing one's completeness as a person can't be achieved apart from the world in which one stands. It means one is not only an observer but an able participant in bringing the salvation one has experienced to the persons and situations locally, nationally and globally. It means that one cannot close one's eyes to injustice or discrimination but is called to live and speak the values and message of Jesus.

In this world, at this time, with countless pressures and challenges facing every person and family, every city and nation, and indeed, every continent on the planet, what greater gift could we receive than freedom? To be an Easter people is to draw on our life's story and the story of our people through the ages -- and realize that now, it is ours -- this light to guide us, individually and communally and globally, each day, until we finally go home.

FATHER JAMES RONAN IS PASTOR OF ST. MARY-ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA PARISH IN CHARLESTOWN.

Father James Ronan is pastor of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena parish in Charlestown, Massachusetts

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