Easter Still: Still Easter
Easter is my favorite season next to Pentecost, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and all that we call “Ordinary Time” scattered throughout.
Easter comes at us with a gentle force that never gives up on the human spiritual quest to be like God or to live fully. I believe, with all my being, that every human being experiences “Easter” – to live is to experience the power of life at its most miraculous.
In the best of times and the worst of times, Easter comes. Amidst our experience of being divided, Easter comes. In the ongoing struggles of daily life; in our failures and confusion, Easter comes. Easter shows up in the midst of our darkness, disappointments and misunderstandings. In the midst of our addictions, denials and fears, Easter comes.
To Boston, West Texas, Iraq, Chechnya, New York, Trinity, and in your life; Easter comes.
Now is the time to look at the lilies of the field. Look at the beauty all around. Easter invites us to look at the blade of grass and the sparrow. Easter wants us to see and know that life is springing up all around and will always be springing up…
The more human beings die before their time at home, in hospital beds, on city streets, and in deserted places -- especially the violent deaths, the more we come face to face with the reality of Easter.
Though a majority of Americans want to have more strict/enforceable background checks and gun laws, our elected politicians have refused to give the people what we desire and deserve. Should this cause despair? No! Those who wish to see a change in any law will need to devote themselves more diligently to the causes they hold dear.
Christians will now face the challenge of seeking and speaking truth amid the many truths that exist. We are called to a most difficult task and it is this: while speaking the truth, we will have to ‘suffer fools.’ To suffer fools gracefully -- without screaming, retaliating, hitting back or killing, requires that we deepen our faith in the mysteries of Easter.
Boston. Watertown. Marathon. Blessings and prayers to the families of those killed. Blessings and prayers to the hundreds injured. Blessings and prayers to the family members and friends who, also, felt the horrors of the day. Blessing and prayers to the security forces who died, were injured, fought bravely, and spoke compassionately and clearly about all that happened. Yes, it is worth remembering that all this is happening at this time of Easter. Eastertide is the season that reminds us at one and the same time not to take it lightly and not to give up hope for change.
Easter is the expression of our belief that good triumphs over evil. I believe that since the dawn of creation, we have had to live with uncertainty, disobedience, violence and hardship. Easter reminds us that at our core we are good and we are children of the Living God. Cain’s killing of Abel did not lead to the end of humanity. Neither will terrorism and violence wipe out the Human Spirit, geared as it is towards wholeness,, justice and the good. Alleluia. Give thanks. And keep hope alive.
In the midst of our greatest fears and experience of violence; Easter refuses to scapegoat, shame, and attack others. Easter calls us to embrace a laughable lifestyle that invites us to turn the other cheek and forgive 70 x 7, and walk the extra mile.
Easter reminds us to look squarely at the Jesus who asks us along with Peter to put our sword away.
In what Jesus has taught us, Easter is no more three days after Good Friday; Easter gets linked with the moment of death; Easter now takes place at every Good Friday. Every time we human beings experience loss, suffering, pain, tragedy, and acts of terror God is intensely present in those moments.
So when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, when terrorism raises its ugly head, when politicians act more out of fear than courage, when the saints sin, when the going gets tough, and when there is much to be afraid of Easter can remind us of who we are, whose we are, and how we are called to be in the image of Christ.
Easter calls us to move beyond our narrow and fearful concerns and live courageously and freely. I believe we are called to be an Easter People, because the world moves towards Easter.
Easter calls us to follow it by living like God: these are the words of Easter: Peace be with you, forgive, love, Mary… what are the Easter words for you? What (other) words in the Easter story have the deepest meanings for you?
Easter reminds us that, death happens, but death – in all its forms and challenges – will never have the final word. Easter reminds us that after death, God offers us Eternal Life.
It is still Easter, it is Easter still.
Jesuits make the best popes
Jesuits make the best popes.
Trust me on this: Jesuits make the best popes.
Most folks do not know that Jesuits who profess final vows make a special vow of obedience to the pope. After years of prayer, study, commitment to finding God in all things and to thinking with the Church, Jesuits are poised to be popes.
Jesuits tend to be most loyal to the Pope, especially those who become bishops/cardinals. Aside from the courageous Italian Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Martini, known for being vocal about the role of women and modernization, that is.
On the other hand, it is also true that there are many Jesuits who express their love and loyalty by being critical of the Church; but these are few because the Pope can have the Superior or the Superior General silence such Jesuit. It is a little more difficult to silence a cardinal though, I think.
Jesuits who take their final vows are considered the pillars of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and one can only become the “Black Pope” (The Jesuit Superior General lives in Rome and wears a black cassock) if one has professed final vows. Resignation is almost unthinkable. Yet the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, did just that; he resigned for reasons of health in 1983. John Paul II (the Pope wears a white cassock) accepted his resignation. Arrupe, the Black Pope, could not have resigned if the Holy Father, the White Pope, did not accept his resignation. Certainly Joseph Ratzinger played a role in this action as well.
Thirty years later -- note the number 30 -- the cardinal turned Pope, who had played a role in allowing the first Superior General of the Jesuits resign for health reasons, resigns the papacy for the same reason. The Pope who resigned is now replaced by a Jesuit of Italian heritage living in Argentina. So we have, in recent times, an emeritus pope, a non-European pope, a Jesuit pope, and a pope who already broke with tradition by having the crowds bless him first. Makes you wonder what the world is coming to or what turns lie ahead.
What can we expect from this pope? My sense is that the pope will continue the conservative trend of the Church. I believe that Rome/the Pope is taking a huge gamble similar to what the Republicans in this country are doing. The Church believes that it needs to be an unchanging institution to show the world that not all change is good. So we can fully expect the pope to solidify the teachings on celibacy, male priesthood, and non-ordination of women, and to enforce the conservative social teachings of the Church.
Jesuits undergo rigorous spiritual and intellectual training. The new pope would have had years of studies in philosophy, theology, and in his area of choice, chemistry. From what I have read about him and know about him (I knew of him when I served as a Jesuit in Brazil), he is a strong advocate for social justice. I would not label him as a liberation theologian but he is certainly a champion for social causes. The world will experience a brilliant mind, a caring presence, an enlightened teacher, a prophetic preacher -- and a mostly conservative pope.
However, these days, you never really know. By choosing the name Francis, the Pope might be channeling the St. Francis who once had a vision of Christ encouraging him to rebuild/restore the Church…
New Pope, new times, and the Spirit who blows where She wills: fasten your seat belt, Christians, you never know until you know. A Jesuit becomes pope and suddenly…
Thoughts on the Pope
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the first believers in Jesus chose successors to Peter who led the Church, guiding it in the legacy of Jesus Christ its Savior and Lord. Popes (or successors to Peter) lived out their faith and their leadership abiding by the view that they held the power to bind things on earth and in heaven and to loose things in heaven and on earth. Sometimes, Popes exercised enormous power and influence and were called great, for example, Leo and Gregory.
There were also times when other Catholics wielded great influence on the life of the Church, such as the Desert Fathers, St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Theresa(s), St. Anthony, St. Monica, St. Ignatius, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Benedict, and St. Joan of Arc. They were famous during their lives and garnered global attention in death.
Pope John XXIII and Paul II are probably the most popular and memorable Popes for Catholics living today. The Polish Pope gave way to the German Pope and they may have ushered in the end of the Italian papacy, but you never know. Because something does not happen for a long time does not mean it won’t happen.
Every so often, we are reminded of the greatness of the Roman Catholic Church. The fact of Rowan Williams’ early retirement as Archbishop of Canterbury barely registered in the news, but today’s news about the Pope was everywhere. When something has not happened in about six hundred years, it is bound to make history.
Already securing a place in history by following John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI will now hold a special place in papal history by being the first to abdicate in 600 years. In some ways, the abdication makes the Church look flexible, adaptable, aware of the times, and cognizant of human limitations.
The world will soon have a new pope, maybe by Easter. The Roman Catholic Church will still have to deal with a modern world, an increasingly less religious world, a world with an increasingly conservative following, and disagreement about public morality. The Roman Catholic Church still needs to deal with questions about women’s ordination, the teaching on homosexuality, the pedophilia scandals, and what it means to be a church in the modern world.
The Pope is 85 years old. Not sure if I could run my own life at 85; can’t imagine trying to lead a global institution. Mamma Mia.
In stepping down, the Pope will manage to draw more attention to the papacy. I think the Pope, in his abdication, will do more good for the church. In our “celebrity focused” world, a leader with detractors, admirers, and millions of followers will draw a lot of attention from believers, unbelievers, skeptics alike; this holy, enigmatic, controversial, accomplished MAN at prayer is hard to ignore.
By breaking a 600 year “tradition” the Pope may be signaling that anything can happen at any time. Or in God’s time.
The Gospel of Edward Irvin Koch According to Mark
My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.
And behold in the year 2013 on this 24th year of Sh’vat, the angel of the Lord was sent from God to a city called New York. A bright light appeared and settled above a holy site – Temple Emanuel. Let the reader know that we are all called to be a temple Emmanuel.
Many had been led bythe light from this star, wise people from every part of the world. Let those, the powerful who attended there, commit to being good news to the poor, release to the captive, and setting the downtrodden free. Because when one beholds good, one should only commit to doing good in multiple places, so that each blessing will reap a hundred fold, or sixty, or forty.
And so it was, the Mayor of New York, may it be eternally so, was laid to rest. And those who gathered to witness the mourning for the dead, left with their spirits rejoicing in God their Savior. Because God, who is mighty, has done great things for them. And all who saw this service must proclaim they want to be a part of it, New York, New York. It is true that those who live and see life and love in New York can and will see it everywhere and be a part of it. In his dying, the One Who is Mighty revealed to those who are powerful that the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God.
And on this day and forever, we will remember the Prophet Ed Koch, who caused many to hear and remember that the Lord is One. In the tradition of Old, Mayor Koch led the people of New York the way the prophets led the people of Israel; the Mayor was Moses, because he, like the rejected Jesse,would become the leader of God’s people of all faiths in New York.
Like Moses, he led the people and did not get to the Promised Land. Like Moses, he was imperfect. Like Moses, he made mistakes. Like Moses, he experienced the inexplicable ways of God, and like Moses, he knew that God had given him the highest honor a mortal could receive. Let the reader know that God calls all of us from good to great; we are called to have big minds and even bigger hearts, as spoken by the Solomonic One Bill Clinton, blessings be upon him. Like Moses, he said what he wanted and was not afraid to point out the wrong and apologize for it.
In Mayor Koch, many experienced the Year of the Lord’s favor. When advisors warned him against building houses for the poor, he built them. He cured those who had the fever of fatigue, proving that one should never tire of doing what is good. He drove out demons, the demons of complacency, and false hopes. When people warned him against speaking the Truth, he proclaimed it. When people told him an issue was dead, he raised it. Indeed, every death now becomes an opportunity to promote good living: every death is a gospel. He proved the power of the Word, by calling crazy by its right name, Crazy. He said in everything he did, thought, and said, “Love every person you meet, love your work, give people back their Spirit. May I be buried where I speak my words and lived my love. And behold, because of me, the powerful will change how they live because they will know that only a life lived for others will be worth celebrating. May New Yorkers and all people walk humbly with their God.”
And in death, the Lord’s Chosen One has turned the hearts, minds, and souls of many to God.
And the Great Jew will be laid to rest in the burial ground that is connected to Trinity Wall Street of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Blessings be upon them. The Annointed Mayor knows that those who believe in the Everlasting and Merciful Yahweh can live anywhere and die anywhere; those who believe in God will live everywhere and anywhere. And let faith be written on the tombstone of those who are not afraid, and let every human being proclaim:
My father is Jewish.
My mother is Jewish.
I am Jewish.
33 Questions for 2013
Why 33? Because Jesus only lived for 33 years (seriously?) and 20 plus 13 equal 33.
1. What are we looking for most intensely?
2. What must we do to live more deeply, to be fully alive?
3. What would Jesus really do today? Never liked this question, but I find myself using it a lot, at least in my mind.
4. What would life be like if we were prophetic and honest enough?
5. Who are our neighbors and who is God?
6. What if we are wrong?
7. What must I do to meet God?
8. What if we are right?
9. Is there an unforgivable sin? I always ask the couples I counsel which is the unforgivable sin – no one so far, has referenced the H.S.
10. Are we reaping the bitter fruits of patriarchy?
11. What does it mean to be loyal?
12. What must I do to meet the President?
13. How could we be so right about God?
14. How could we be so wrong about God?
15. Have we been loved and how do we know?
16. How has love changed us?
17. How do our lives reflect gratitude?
18. What must I do to meet Kobe and the Dalai Lama?
19. Have we been hated and how do we know?
20. How has hate changed us?
21. Does race have anything to do with what is going on in Washington?
22. Can we really change?
23. What must I do to meet the poorest person in the world?
24. Do people who sin show us more about God than the saints?
25. Why do we do what we do?
26. What am I called to do?
27. What gives me meaning?
28. Where may I do more or less?
29. How should I care for myself?
30. Where/how do we hold and heal hate and anger?
31. How do we respect the dignity of others?
32. What are we co-creating?
33. What question(s) are we not asking?
2013 – Epiphany of a Year
Which path is God inviting us to follow to arrive at Jesus? What is your life calling you to follow? Where are you being called to exercise wisdom this year? Will you follow the star? Will you follow the light? This is the spiritual path for this millennium: the path that leads to a child (protecting the vulnerable), a path guided by the light, a path with other wise people, and a path that leads to god and conversion. This applies to every human being – truly making Jesus universal.
In a recent sermon, I said, Christmas is 366 days a year. Epiphany is 366 days a year. Ver, Julgar, and Agir mean to look, judge and, act in Portuguese. This requires that we adapt this discipline in life. We are called to pay attention, discern, and then act.
Look at the debates in Washington.
Look at the Knicks. The Knicks are amazing. Jason Kidd is the Rock of Ages. JR is the Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Jason is the OMG and Melo is, let us just admit, Melo is a divine being. Felton and Amare are archangels. Yes, New Yorkers are believing again. Poor Jay- Z, I don’t think he is allowed to go to a Knicks’ game.
What is happening in your neck of the woods? What interest you these days?
Look at the tax debate in this country, France, and in Russia. Look at the growing disparities in wealth (do some research on it). Count all the blessings of this life. Look at the deaths. Look at the blessings. Look at the beauty of Nature and the ever present eternal life?
A few days ago on my Facebook page, I wrote that I wish we all will receive the courage and the grace and the strength we need. I don’t like saying, Happy New Year. Happiness does not signify that we are in the place we ought to be. Tragedy and loss and death may shape us into a more committed and authentic living. Embrace and do not shun the happiness that will come your way in 2013; but be strong enough to embrace all that the challenges that come your way.
Where are we going as a world? India, Syria, Israel, Palestine and Iran – what will unfold in those countries? How are we called to embrace the fools, the poor, the sick, the stranger and the rich in our midst?
Indeed, there will be more tragedies near and far. Of course, the world is not ending, but many will experience it that way. Pray for strength and wisdom and pray for the courage to learn from it all. It is not too late to start a spiritual practice.
The older we get the harder it is (though, not for all) to lose the pounds, keep the hair, be flexible, listen to the truth and change.
The older we get – each day – we (should) work for a world that is better for all, we seek what is good, true and beautiful, we follow the star and seek to find God. Best Wishes for 2013 Epiphany. Look. Best Wishes for Epiphany. Judge/discern. Courage to learn from all that comes your way in 2013. Act.
Let us pray for the families in Newtown, Connecticut.
Lord, bring them consolation, courage, and peace – fortitude in the midst of inexplicable and unexpected grief.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
Recent events remind us of our brokenness as human beings. Senseless violence, especially against children, breaks the heart of every human who desires a world of peace and love. We all have multiple questions – questions that are ultimately one: Why? Why do bad things exist? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen to people?
There are those whose hearts are so broken down that there must be a profound feeling that there is no way of finding consolation. This pain, I admit, must be unimaginable. Part of the tragedy is knowing that life can never be the same, again, for hundreds of people.
How deep the pain must be. Lord, have mercy. Holy Mary, Mother of God, hold your children in your arms and console us.
As people of faith, we remember that God calls us to a life of compassionate support for each other in moments of pain and crisis. We are called to witness to a way of living where such tragedy will have no place.
We remember that we are called to comfort the afflicted, be agents of healing, and be princes and princesses of peace.
Maybe, this Advent we are called to remember how necessary this journey towards the Prince of Peace is.
How do we worship God and witness to our faith in light of violence and death?
Wonder how we are willing to change our culture of violence?
Wonder how we will engage a constructive conversation about guns and the laws that regulate them?
Wonder how we are called to be witnesses of Jesus in a world marred by violence?
Wonder what lessons we need to learn about community in all its forms?
Wonder the lessons we are called to learn about life?
Advent invites us to take the recent events with us as we journey towards the birth of Jesus. Advent invites us to believe that the Prince of Peace will make the world more peaceful; if the world pays true homage to God.
Advent invites us to weep with those who weep.
Advent invites us to redouble our efforts to be channels of love, forgiveness and commitment to doing what is good, holy, and true.
Mark Bozzuti-Jones is the author of the Advent book, The Womb of Advent.
Stupid people make baby Jesus cry, a friend of mine says. Most stores already have the signs up, “Merry Christmas!” Most folks have started to focus on the gifts they will receive or give. Christmas carols blare from the most pagan of places. Few things dare declare the real reason for Christmas.
Unfaithful people cannot find Jesus hiding behind the door. For us, Advent always come before Christmas, though increasingly for many Christmas is right after Thanksgiving. All of this is okay. For those who take the road less travelled to Christmas, we observe Advent best by acknowledging that many will ignore the gold and choose what glitters. Compassion is the best response, because we know that quite frequently, we are guilty of idolatry of all kinds. We, too, throw out the baby. We, too, forget about Jesus throughout the year. Why are we surprised at the faithfulness of the unfaithful? We are unfaithful too.
Faithful people still follow the Star with the hope of finding God. Advent calls us to begin again faithfully. Advent calls us to weep over where we have not been honest. Advent calls us to read and reinterpret why we live. Advent calls us to re-examine the election and our political thoughts and affiliations. Advent calls us to pay more attention to the issues. Advent call us to begin again. Advent, that great season, invites us to stop, dance, read a new book, repent, write poetry, love the wrong people, make mistakes, stop being perfect, and… and wait… and reorient…
Godly people allow God to let them go. How does Sandy affect your Advent? How does the conflict between Israel and Palestine affect your thoughts about Advent and Christmas? How does Advent make you more generous? How does Advent scare you? Should it?
Spiritually mature folks listen to God. Advent calls us to listen and to read. I try to listen to many poets (known and unknown). Rumi is one of the poets I quote a lot on my Facebook page. I find these words from Rumi a great way to begin Advent (almost wrote Lent):
“The breeze at dawn has secrets for you
Don’t go back to sleep
You must ask for what is most important for you
People go back and forward across the doorsill
Where two worlds will embrace
The door is wide and always open
Please, do not return to Sleep”.
There are four Sundays of Advent. Take your time. Take your Time. Take Advent.
A parishioner recently asked, “Why don’t we have a space in the parish bulletin for giving thanks?” I agree with her, we should have space in our bulletin for the many blessings of this life. As a matter of fact, when I celebrate the Eucharist on Wednesdays and Fridays, I often say, “Someone will pray with you for healing and will give thanks with you.” I believe we are a Eucharistic people: we give thanks.
Right after Sandy, a member of the parish asked, “Why do we give thanks when so many have suffered?” We came to the following conclusion: giving thanks means to seek a position of compassion, a huge dose of unconditional gratitude, and an awareness of all who experience loss, pain, and death.
There goes the Middle East again. Israel and Palestine restart a plot of events that we keep praying will have a happy and good ending. There goes our political system, politicians already forgetting to make the country their only priority.
We give thanks, because we know that God is not a magician. We give thanks to God because we know that God does not exist to manage nature or restrict human freedom. We acknowledge God’s unconditional and caring presence – a presence that loves humanity in a way that is positive and so different from the ways we have experienced love.
What a sign of God’s covenant with us that we call our worship of God, the Eucharist. What a spiritual marvel that Eucharist is celebrated every moment of the day, somewhere throughout the world, and in many churches celebrated every day.
To seek God requires that we enter into a true definition of God. Giving thanks calls us to righteous living in good times and in bad, and for better or worse. To give thanks requires that we work for Justice. To give thanks calls us to seek God’s will in all things. To give thanks invites us to be good news to the poor, the sick, the weak, the sinner, the immigrant, the difficult family member, and the Self. To give thanks is to know that we are children of God, really. Give thanks this Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving become the daily
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL.