26 April 2009 - Fr Terry Tastard

Bono, the well known singer from U2, has written about Easter in the New York Times. I found his meditation thought-provoking.

He writes: "I check my emotional life with music, my intellectual life with writing, but religion is where I soul-search."

As you would expect from a man who has been deeply concerned about the plight of the world's poor, he calls for concerted action to help those who are trapped in poverty. But he anchors his call in a spiritual understanding of what it means to be human. Bono takes us through some of the pressing issues of our day, and his message is clear: the spiritual and the material go together. Only if the deepest spiritual values are truly lived, can the material conditions of our world be changed. And only if the material reality is affected, can it be said that spirituality has been fully effective.

In the gospel today (Luke 24.35-48) there is another thought-provoking message about the spiritual and the material. The scene takes place just as the disciples are talking breathlessly about how they recognised Jesus at the breaking of the bread. We do this now in the Eucharist. In this humble everyday food, a new spiritual reality is made possible. During this discussion Jesus himself comes among them. He is no ghost, but a transformed body, as is made clear by that homely and rather strange detail about eating some grilled fish. It drives home the message that Christ does not disdain the body. Through his incarnation he has reached out to us, and he reaches out to us still.

To be human is to have a presence, to be recognised by others, to be individually unique. What eternity will be like we can hardly say, it is almost impossible to envisage. But we will be transformed. Our bodies, the sign of our personhood, will be changed. This is why Jesus emphasises that he is not a ghost. The sign of continuity is found in his body, in his wounds, which is why he shows the disciples his hands and his feet. We too, will be the unique person each of us is, transformed by the power of Christ¹s resurrection. His life, which is to say God¹s power and God¹s love, will be made known through our bodies. Eternal life will be very different from here and now, but we will still be who we are. There will be continuity through our transformed bodies.

This promise has consequences for us here and now. We would be betraying the gospel if we regarded our own lives as sacred but depreciated the lives of others. Because Christ came among us, all human life is sacred. The spiritual and the material go together. We pray that God's will may be done on earth as in heaven, that this world may reflect more and more the love of God. We are invited to make this a reality. The struggles that so many people go through, their suffering and striving cannot be matters of indifference to us. Every Easter reminds us that God, who loves us enough to love us into eternity also loves all other human beings equally. Easter is therefore a challenge to turn our lives around once more, to make the material world a place where the deepest and truest spiritual values are lived out and made a reality. Hence today's scriptures with their call to repentance as part of the Easter witness.

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