I think I can say without fear of contradiction that this has been a weird year. And hey!–suddenly, it’s Easter again. It feels rather surreal.
Like many people, I have done very little to celebrate holidays during the pandemic. That’s okay; I’m all for downsizing the fuss and nonsense and commercialization. Truth be told, I let go of a lot of Christian ritual a few years back. This was not a big decision, Catholicism just slipped away easily, and now I feel surprisingly liberated.
Nonetheless, I was raised Catholic, and it will always be my first culture–the air I breathe, the water I swim in–whether I like it or not. There is much to be grateful for, and yet much to be vigilant against. But it’s Easter, so let me focus on the positive.
Here is a reprint of a short post I created six years ago. I feel it sums up a bit of the best of Christianity, and perhaps more specifically the best of Catholicism. I hope it resonates with you.
For thirty-something years I had the privilege of working with children who have severe disabilities. Often when I was out in the community with my students, strangers would approach me and say, “You must be so patient.” Yeah, sure, but probably no more than any other teacher. Other times folks would tell me I was doing “God’s work,” and once a school nurse said I would get a “crown in heaven” for all I was doing for these children.
The truth is working with these kids was a hecka lot of fun, and I don’t need any greater reward than that.
Tim Shriver, one of the Kennedy clan and current chairman of the Special Olympics, was quoted in Parade Magazine last weekend, and what he had to say really summed it up for me too. Just as his parents taught him, this is what my parents emphasized to me: “What our Catholic tradition has done well is make you not just ought to help, but want to help—hunger for it. Be hungry for justice, be hungry for healing, be hungry for connection, be hungry for leveling the playing field. That’s more than just a moral imperative. It’s believing that your best self will always be in solidarity with those who are having a hard time.” After all, he adds, “Jesus was all about [taking care of] the poor and the marginalized and then having a party.”
Yes, Jesus teaches us to be hungry for justice, hungry for healing, hungry for fun and hungry for cake. And I think Jesus would be fine with Christians making wedding cakes for same sex couples too. Just thought I’d throw that in there.
May you have a Blessed Good Friday and a Happy Easter Weekend. Amen.
Photo by Gabor Juhasz on Unsplash