May 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Christ is Risen!

Jesus encountered a lot of poor and marginalized people. He seemed to like them and even prefer them. He was very much at home with them. No judgment. No criticism. Just understanding and openness. Unless I am utterly delusional (don't laugh), that's the example we ought to be following.

Think about it for a moment. Prostitutes and adulterers (read "the immoral"), tax collectors, foreigners, non-believers, apostates. If the Lord had been a garden-variety moralist or a religious fanatic, he would never have treated these people with such kindness. He came, he said, to save sinners and not the righteous and to heal all those who knew they were sick. Into that ocean of broken humanity he dove head long. And how can we deny that he called us to do the very same thing? Seems we can and we do find reasons to do just that.

I can no longer see the mission of the Church any other way than to reach out to serve all with utter abandon. Why waste time in other endeavors when there is so much suffering, so much division, so much misunderstanding that only love can heal? We must imitate Jesus who "went about doing good" or else admit we would rather follow some other false messiah preaching some other easier and more comfortable Gospel.

If there is a battle to be fought and won, it is not in culture, it is in our own hearts. Christ did not tell us to love and serve only when society adheres to our standards. "Love never fails." There are no preconditions to the kind of ultimate, self-sacrificial service to which we are called. If we do not love as he does, it is not because others are unlovable, it is because the log is so squarely lodged in our own eyes that we cannot see that those who to us seem unworthy of love are Christ. Inevitably, our failure to see him in the poverty of our neighbors will make it impossible for us to see him in his glory.

Our excuses are legion. Our rationalizations are myriad. Our ability to concoct creative alibis and cloak them in religious language is unlimited. And finally, when all is said and done, and he appears in glory, and we stand before his great seat of judgment, our pretenses will all be stripped away. Then we will know as we are known and we will see the truth that it was not some great theology or faith that motivated us to condemn others. It was just some little fear that subverted our capacity to be like him, like a gnat whose buzzing drowned out the evangelic clarion call to embrace our neighbors without fear.

Christ continually reminded us, "Do not be afraid." May God grant that one day we will hear him for the truth is that in Christ there is no reason to fear.

Truly He is Risen!

+Fr. Antony