Reading – Romans 8:18-21
I was awaiting the vigil mass of Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday as I wrote this reflection. For the mass at 8 p.m., we arrived around 7:40 (drastically late for my family, who arrives at regular masses around 40 minutes beforehand [we’re weird]; it was mainly my fault [taking too long to get ready, as usual]). Here’s what I thought that evening:
Probably within five minutes of sitting down, my mind will start to wander. I will want the mass to start and be over with already, and a small part of me will even want to have not come at all, to sit at home and do with my Saturday night what seems best to me (exciting news – it would be reading a book).
Isn’t this what happens to so many of us time and again? We hear of the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of our own, and for a time we, with the whole of creation, live in “eager expectation” of our fulfillment and transformation in the presence of God.
But then that fulfillment, that unimaginable joy, does not come as quickly as we would like (right now, please!), and that eager expectation gradually loses its eagerness and perhaps even its expectation. We can’t really picture life with God in eternity, anyway, so how can we keep an image of it before us to run for in breathless excitement?
This is one of the major problems we encounter as a people of the Kingdom of God, realized partially yet not completely – no, not yet. We are an Easter people, to be sure; we proclaim joyfully our trust in new life from God. But we are also a people of waiting, a people of Holy Saturday. And this waiting, this interminable period of looking forward, can be maddening, especially when it seems we move no further toward our goal.
What shall we do? Give up hope, focus on only what we can grasp, wait without emotion, reject it all? I, at least, would prefer not to. But what’s the alternative?
I think one thing we need to realize is that our expectation will not always be eager and that this is okay. Time may appear to stretch from us in all directions as one grey sheet, a blank late-winter sky of spirituality, an endless plateau of advancement toward God. Nothing changing, nothing better or worse, nothing to strive for or hope in. This can be numbing, comforting, and terrifying all at once.
Even in these times, we must reach out to God, ask where He is, ask how to find Him, yell and shout at and for Him, keep going, keep waiting. These spells – even years- of spiritual drought, of greyness, can be our biggest crosses in our life. Consequently, they can also be united with the suffering of Jesus and transformed in his resurrection, if only we keep vigil with him and let him remain in our hearts.
Another perspective: our expectation, eager or not, can be answered in each day, in the smallest of moments, if we invite God into them. God continues the act of creation, salvation, and completion here and now as Creator, Word, and – especially in our time – Spirit. God moves within all of creation, including all people, while presiding over it and serving as its foundation, continually calling us into being, sustaining us, and drawing us deeper into His love, His self. Isn’t this something incredible?
In our breath, as we sweep the floor, when we talk in love with a friend or family member, as we drive, in a ray of sunlight, when we wake up, at our meals, as we walk to class, when we go to sleep, even as we kneel down in a pew before mass – in our everyday lives, we can let God enter into our hears with the blinding, breathtaking promise and reality of the resurrection.
No, we cannot imagine what eternal life through Jesus with all three Persons of the one God will be like, let alone what the “glorious freedom” of all creation will entail. But we can still see glimpses of it, touch part of it, catch a breath of the air in this unknown country, in our lives here – at Easter especially, yes, but also at school, at work, at home.
God is everywhere, above all, within all, around all, below all, with all. Let us try to find him not only in the solemn masses of this year and those to come but also in small moments of glory. When we cannot seem to find Him at all in the greyness, let us keep stretching out our hands and calling out His name.
Please, Lord Jesus, bring us to newness of life with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thank you. Amen. Alleluia. ~