Reflections on the Readings
April 5, 2015 - Year B
The Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Day
Heaven On Earth
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Jihadists gave the Church the fresh blood of martyrs at the beginning of our Holy Triduum this Holy Week. Descending upon a university in the Kenyan town of Garrissa, the Somali-based al-Shabaab terrorist organization began killing Christian students. If the student could recite an Islamic prayer, he was dismissed. Those who couldn't or wouldn't were counted as sheep for the slaughter as was our Lord. Mostly male students are among the 147 dead. Many others are wounded and traumatized. We can only imagine the ordeal for those being hunted down like quarry. Some of the killed were gathered together for morning prayer. They were easy prey. Yet we can be sure that Christ, who is our life, gave these new martyrs of the faith a royal welcome home.
Everyone of goodwill decries religiously based violence. But such fire in the minds of men and women is difficult to extinguish when it is fueled by a misguided understanding of God and is holy love. All of us, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, are better off if we strike our breast in humility rather than beating triumphantly on our drums. But the issue is surrender, isn't it? And I don't mean to each other but to the God we all say we profess. But that's not easy if you think God is on your side and agrees with you. And that mostly creates chaos in families, among friends, in the neighborhood, among nations and on the blog posts.
I surrendered to Christ at the tender age of nine. I was sitting on the second wooden slat pew from the front on the left side of the church that hot summer evening. From the moment the service started I was overcome by the need to surrender to Christ and his love. Tears welled up in my eyes and I could hear my heart beating as I squirmed in my seat. Brother Snodgrass asked me if I would like to pray. I responded and loving people gathered with me at the altar praying with me and for me while I repented and invited Jesus into my heart and life. For the past 51 years, I've been learning how and why I must surrender more and more to the love of Jesus. Sometimes I even manage to create a little bit of heaven on earth.
Every baptized Christian is called to be a witness of the way of Christ and his Cross, and his indestructible life. Some doubt and don't grasp that someone, that anyone, could rise from the dead. So our work is cut out for us. The story of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead still needs telling. So, starting right now, let's exalt the name of Jesus by loving one another, by forgiving each other, by being the face of the resurrected Jesus to all we meet. Then there will be more heaven on earth and less chaos. For Jesus lives, and he is praying for us to be faithful, and courageous, until that day when he appears, and we appear with him in glory. Those Christian students in Kenya, who loved not their lives unto death, remind us to settle for nothing less.
May you have a Happy and Holy Easter. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com