I really want to wish all of you a really very happy Easter! One of my favorite parts of Easter is the smell of the lilies, especially around Church! One of the things I realized as I was in prayer before dawn on Good Friday morning was exactly how the Church was born and why we refer to the Church as the Bride of Christ.
If you look from Genesis to Revelation what is the one common theme between all books? The answer may surprise you but that is Marriage! Take for instance how God takes a rib from Adam's side, as he lay deep asleep, and from which Eve is formed. In the same way as both blood and water flow from the side of Christ, after being pierced through while He hung dead on the Cross, from His side the bride of Christ, the Church is formed. Think again Adam, in a deep sleep. Christ, dead on the cross though soon to rise again. What formed the Church out of Christ's side? Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, the foundation of our faith!
Again, if you recall all the various covenants that God enters into with mankind, or even how the prophets especially Hosea addressed the people of God. God doesn't address us as children as much as a wayward spouse. His intention is to save us from our own hand, from our frivolities. Of course in any loving marriage you cannot force your spouse to love or even respect you, attempting to do so would be a situation of abuse especially of one's will and intellect. But through patient service and vulnerability a relationship is kindled. God in many ways goes after us in the most unexpected of ways, earnestly searching for our hearts and for our love.
So again, as in marriage, not just any love will do. It is easy to love with a self love, that is to say, 'I love you because I love having company or a certain pleasure' or 'I love you because you take up the tasks I wouldn't want to complete or because you afford me niceties.' But God, like our marriages, searches for something deeper, a selfless love that does not count the cost. God looks for a love in which we are willing to say I'm sorry in the confessional and do what it takes to make our wrongs right in the world. I always wonder what difference it would've made in Genesis if together Adam and Eve had simply uttered two words, 'I'm Sorry.' I have to admit being so vulnerable is difficult especially when our lived experience is one of frustration and limited vision or understanding.
Even so, when we sin and move away from God's love we cannot make a liar out of God. Just as in the Garden of Eden God said death would come to those who eat of the forbidden tree so too our sins which are of mortal nature will also cause death. Of course when God spoke to Adam and Eve he afforded them in mercy an opportunity of redemption, a difficult path, which certainly would end in death but a death which was realized by the end with a certain hopefulness. We too in this time flirt with death, and we also hope for that which Adam and Eve hoped. Yet even more because of the absolute vulnerable love of God he afforded his Son to hang there on the mount of Golgatha (the place where David, the archetype of the kingship of Jesus, buried his greatest triumph, Goliaths head) victorious for us all. Jesus in a very real way each Sunday is present and in the Confessional is present not only to forgive our sins and to rekindle our relationships with God but also to ever so little lighten our loads and give us the hope we need to reach the finish line and win the crown. Because ultimately this life is but a short pilgrimage in an alien world of hate and hurt.
I suppose in a practical sense, the two most important words we can learn is 'I'm sorry,' and certainly not in a superficial sense. But I would say, beginning the process of true sorrow, like training for a sport, takes a certain discipline. We may not always feel sorry but feelings often betray us, the difference between being superficial and being actually sorrowful is that when we are superficial we never have or ever had the intention of really being sorry. When we are actually sorry we may and often do struggle with forgiveness ourselves, we may struggle uttering the words, but in the end we realize we value our relationship with God and with each other far more then any kind of conjured or elusive 'rightness' or 'justice.' The only thing that matters along with a great helping of Mercy is 'God's righteousness, God's justice,' the kind of which we humbly witness to others: eager at admitting limits and fault, rarely giving answers, often listening, and even more often acting in compassion and witness of God's Love afforded us on the Cross. Christ is Risen, Alleluia!
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since 2011.