Year C

Be intent on things above

According to a recent Associated Press report, the Minnesota Legislature has voted unanimously to ask President Ronald Reagan to bestow on Herman Miller of Minneapolis the Medal of Honor.

At the time of the Spanish-American War, Miller enlisted in the U.S. Army. He saw action in 1899 in the subsequent Philippines Campaign. At one point his company was defending the town of Batac against 800 Filipino insurgents. When 60 enemy riflemen swarmed into the town square, Herman and eleven other Americans bravely charged and drove them back. After the battle Miller's commanding officer recommended to superiors that he be awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism beyond the call of duty. Unfortunately, the recommendation got pigeon-holed, and the award was never given.

The reason why the Minnesota Legislature has reopened the case is that in 1983, 84 years after the defense of Batac, Herman Miller is still alive, aged 104. The petition for the medal after so many years is a gracious gesture; and the President will doubtless act on it. Old Herman will surely be touched to receive the nation's highest military honor.

But when all is said and done, what is such an honor worth? The recipient will have a moment of pleasure, but the grantors will enjoy it more than the old soldier. The older one gets the less important worldly acclaim becomes. When the soul goes to Heaven, it has no lapel on which to wear its medals.

That is what St. Paul is telling us all this Easter Sunday: "Since you have been raised up in company with Christ … be intent on things above rather than things of earth" (Today's second reading). Time is for now, eternity is for ever. Our values should be eternal ones. It is an honor to be greeted by the President of the United States. It is a far greater honor to be greeted by the risen Christ at Heaven's gate.

-Father Robert F. McNamara

Q418: Today's gospel (John 20:1-9) leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions - like “where is the body” or “who rolled back the stone.” Why are we left suspended?

I suspect that each one of us knows a relative or friend who tends to be “pessimistic” about many things, usually looking at the “worst” that can happen in a given situation. That is really just a defense mechanism they are using, hoping to avoid (or preparing for) any shock that might occur if and when the “worst” does in fact happen in the future.

Could this be the case with Mary Magdalene, Peter, and “the disciple whom Jesus loved” in today's gospel? The short pericope or segment from the Evangelist ends with the observation that they did not anticipate the resurrection of Jesus. Certainly the teaching of Jesus had been clear on this point. As a minimum, they had heard the teaching (more than once), but it had not “sunk in” yet - perhaps it was the same “defense mechanism” at work.

In this brief gospel story, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” observes the empty tomb and the burial cloths carefully rolled up. “He saw and believed.” Those are crucial words! They are the first “glimmer of true hope” from any disciple. He believed, based on what he saw (and also on what he did not see). The Questioner above wanted to know why we are “left suspended” by the way the story ends; I believe the answer is precisely to show the birth of true hope. We do not need a firewall or “defense mechanism” because our faith unites with this hope and makes us loving members of the one Body of Christ. The empty tomb is all about hope, which must now be nurtured through daily prayer and meditation.

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! As Christians we are called to view death in the light of the resurrection of Jesus- because in His death and resurrection lies our hope (CCC #1681). The Holy Spirit teaches us to celebrate every liturgy in eager expectation of the return of Jesus, by praying in hope (CCC #2657).

Let Us Rejoice and be Glad

Easter is the pivotal day in the Christian calendar. The Paschal Mystery is the heart of Christian faith – the life death and resurrection of te Lord. The disciples believed, but that belief did not come easy. At first they did not understand what had happened in the tomb; they reacted in various ways: with wonder, bewilderment, and even unbelief. Eventually they all came to be witnesses of the resurrection, but they had much to learn and appreciate about the Lord. As St. Paul tells us, by baptism we participate in Christ's life, death and resurrection and it can and should shape our lives and give us spiritual energy. We too have to be enlightened and strengthened by the Holy spirit to recognize the power of the risen Jesus in our lives. We are still on earth but we have to live with the new risen life that Christ shares with us. To the extent that we do this, people will sense and experience the meaning of the resurrection of the Lord.

Come Holy Spirit and help us to shape our lives so that we may truly be an Easter People. Help us to show more clearly the power of Jesus' resurrection in our own life and in the lives of others.