Monday, April 13, 2009

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est

Holy Week is always long and a little tiring. Four different churches, lots of pomp and ritual. But the high point for me was none of this. It was the time spent riding with my friend, listening -- and occasionally singing along -- to the Sarah Brightman disc that happened to be in the CD player. We have fun together. In the car we can just be two friends enjoying life. At the destination, it's back to work. He has his role; I have mine.

Perhaps you were expecting something brilliant -- a profound reflection on how Jesus died for our sins (my personal theology leans more towards "Jesus died -- and continues to die -- BECAUSE of our sins" than a rarified salvational interpretation of the Crucifixion), or maybe a review of the various liturgical dramas of Semana Santa. But I don't find Jesus in the showy moments -- much less when viewed from behind a camera lens. I find Him in my friend's smiling eyes, hear Him in his joyful laugh, and so the quiet but spontaneous time in the car does more for my soul than any carefully scripted Church activity, no matter how well executed.

Later I received an Easter greeting and reflection from Don Sante, a married priest friend from Italy. Jesus is not to be found where power and judgement (and, all too frequently, injustice) hold sway, but where love, compassion and forgiveness prevail. Here are Don Sante's words, loosely translated into English:

Jesus created many enemies, while only doing good. When someone hates you, your misfortune becomes their joy. When someone hates you, your death becomes their greatest joy. Jesus dies and His enemies rejoice. Jesus is also abandoned by His friends (or better: by opportunists of every kind and degree); He is alone. Those who remain near Him can be counted on one hand and His enemies sing victory.

Those who believe they possess the truth grant themselves the right to defame and slander. Those who feel they have a monopoly on God exercise their power of death, issue sentences and judgments, have no limits when gathering false evidence and committing injustice. With their dogmatic infallibility, they have made themselves the most repugnant of the idols.

Jesus, to the end, remains faithful to His way of love: NO POWER to exert over others because His kingdom will never be in this world, NO JUDGEMENT but always mercy, understanding and forgiveness; NO INJUSTICE, because men and women are made for truth, harmony, goodness, peace.

It is good to be a community, a family, a person that tries as much as possible not to have ANY POWER, not to render ANY JUDGEMENT, not to commit ANY INJUSTICE.

Jesus is left alone on this road. He gave the victory to His enemies, but He saved His dignity, His conscience, His freedom and especially the joy of loving and being loved. To all those who are trying to live out this way of love: Buona Pasqua!

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