The Father has prepared a wedding banquet with food and drink that satisfies our deepest hunger. The Father begs us to come to the feast. He has prepared the choicest food and has saved the best wine for last. The food at this banquet will never run out and we will never hunger or thirst again. He implores us “come to the feast.”
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This exact question is asked of Jesus two times in the gospels, by two different people, and he gives them different answers.
“The Easter Season ends with the conclusion of Evening Prayer.”
The sweet consolation of Easter, basking in the glory of the Resurrection, my patroness (my religious name was Sr. Magdala Marie) popping up all over the place: it was all over. Then I realized that Ordinary Time is ushered in by a series of solemnities to wean us off of desserts, Alleluias and perhaps even his felt presence.
So what did we learn from the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe? Perhaps, the fact that millions of people were converted following the appearance of Our Lady was no coincidence. What if Our Lady is the key to the New Pentecost?
What does the word Pentecost bring to mind?
I know a few years ago when I was pondering the new Pentecost needed in our Church I was very focused on the externals. I think expressing our love for God and praising him with full heart and voice is very important, but I’ve come to realize that there is something more basic going on.
I’m experiencing post-Africa let down all over again. Having come home right before Easter, for the past few weeks we’ve been singing joyful “Alleliua” songs like this one:
Doesn’t that make you want to dance and lift your hands in praise? Okay, maybe it’s just me…
But seriously, when twenty women sing this song in a more lively fashion than a 200 person congregation, there is a serious problem.
The problem isn’t that I’m used to being surrounded by people who are madly in love with Jesus and are not afraid to show it! Honestly the average parishioner usually doesn’t even look like they want to be at Mass. No wonder we’re attracting so many people.
Sarcasm aside (with maybe a touch of sass), what does our Church need? The same thing we’ve always needed, since Jesus ascended to the Father: the Holy Spirit. More specifically we need a new Pentecost.
I love, love, love the story about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The Lord often reminds me of it when I’m trying to pretend that everything is okay (like he doesn’t know everything!). I can’t tell you how many times in prayer I’ve felt the gentle nudging to be honest with Him but insist that I’m “fine”. In these times I’m invited to have the honesty of Mary and Martha – to get angry, because God can handle it! Martha and Mary didn’t meekly say, “oh it’s okay Jesus, we know this is for the best and we trust you.” No, they were not afraid to show that they were angry and confused: “what the heck Jesus! You go around doing all these great miracles but you can’t stop our brother, who you claimed to love, from dying. Some Messiah you are!”
I think the key to understanding this story is the fact that Mary and Martha never lost their faith. They believed with their whole hearts that he could have healed their brother and Martha even says, “even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
These two sisters believed that Jesus could do anything, they just didn’t realize “anything” included raising men from the dead. This is something they couldn’t imagine. Our God does more than we can ask or imagine.
But the part that we still struggle with is why Jesus let Lazarus die in the first place. Because he loved them. Logically speaking, this is completely insane. Let’s talk about my ways are not your ways. Jesus even goes so far as to say, “for your sake I am glad I was not there”. Can you imagine the disciples shock and confusion over this?
Jesus allows Lazarus to die because in the end, it is better for everyone. I’ve wondered if this was to give them all hope during Jesus’s crucifixion. They must have thought: He raised Lazarus from the dead, perhaps He will rise also. God allows a brief period of pain and mourning, to make the new day that much more brilliant.
One thing I learned in convent was that I hate suffering (okay who really likes it?). But I really struggle to see the value in it, which I think is true to most of us. We believe in a God whose plan to save us involved letting His Son die in utter agony by being crucified. I know we’ve all struggled with the questions “why suffering?” and “why do good things happen to bad people?” Maybe you’ve even tried to explain redemptive suffering to others and think you really get it. But deep in each of our hearts we all ask, “why?”
Why does God allow so much evil? Why do little children get shot, abused and horribly mistreated? Free will, we like to throw around. Is that a satisfactory answer? God could just stop it all if He wanted. And then what would draw us close to Him?