Our readings for this Sunday, Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord are here. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/041722.cfm). The readings are ABC, meaning they are used every Easter Sunday when the Mass of the Day is celebrated (versus the readings of the Vigil Mass, the evening before).
Again, these are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from seven different years. Since the readings are the same each year, we’ll enjoy a feast of the poems, some notes, and a reflection or two of my own. The Easters we are visiting are:
- April 21, 2019 Cycle C
- April 1, 2018 Cycle B
- 8:30 Mass on April 16, 2017 Cycle A
- Noon Mass on March 27, 2016 Cycle C
- 8:30 Mass on April 5, 2015 Cycle B
- 7PM Mass on April 20, 2014 Cycle A
The poems Fr Dennis referenced are:
- A Light Exists in Spring by Emily Dickinson (Public Domain), April 21, 2019 Cycle C
- A Color Slide by Ted Kooser, April 21, 2019 Cycle C
- “Easter Is Calling Me Back to the Church” by Margaret Renkl (NYT March 25, 2018), April 1, 2018 Cycle B
- Messenger by Mary Oliver, 8:30 Mass on April 16, 2017 Cycle A
- Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike, 8:30 Mass on April 16, 2017 Cycle A
- Blackbirds by Julie Cadwallader-Staub, Noon Mass on March 27, 2016 Cycle C
- Hoarfrost and Fog by Barton Sutter, 8:30 Mass on April 5, 2015 Cycle B
- W.H. Auden quote and Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry, 7PM Mass on April 20, 2014 Cycle A
The following are notes from the earlier Easter celebrations — in later years I was often serving at other St Mary’s liturgies during the day and didn’t always get to hear the homilies associated with the poems!
In 2016, we reflected on —
That we don’t know much about the actual resurrection —
- There is nothing in scripture about it.
- Not much else outside scripture.
- The folded face cloth in the tomb helps John believe in the resurrection. A robber or someone opposed to Jesus as the Messiah would not have taken such care; the cloth would have been tossed about.
- The resurrection seems to be in the small things, in the overall fit of things. It is not a perfect conclusion, but a sensible one, a reasonable one for a person of faith. It leaves us “looking up.”
- Blackbirds by Julie Cadwallader-Staub captures this with her final line “ah yes, this is how it’s meant to be.”
In 2015, we reflected on —
That Easter Sunday is a bit of a letdown from the Vigil and other Triduum masses, a less elaborate and less detailed exaltation.
- It’s interesting to note that compared to his public ministry of healings and miracles prior to the Passion, Jesus “doesn’t do much” after the Resurrection. He could have done fantastic things. But other than the fish catch, there are no miracles. Even that is not on a par with those miracles before the crucifixion or the resurrection itself.
- It seems that all he wants to do is eat with his friends. He seems quite content to be ordinary.
- So … we’re going to rise, but we want to cherish what is happening all around us — food, eating, breathing, living.
- Breathing — the miracle and depth of it in any given moment. The Hoarfrost and Fog poem by Barton Sutter captures this beautifully. Perhaps imagine that first breath again for Jesus.
- We are all born again when we realize we have a God who became human so God could see things from our point of view; and he died and rose so that we could learn God’s point of view, i.e., God’s Love for us.
In 2014, we reflected on —
“In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.” W. H. Auden.
That Easter Sunday is more easily expressed in singing (or tail-wagging!) than words … and yet we try.
- The reign of God, the Kindom (co-opting Greg Boyle, SJ’s phrasing) that the Apostles and early Christian communities tried to live and witness in light of the mystery best captured in the gospel, its profit is … of no earthly value at all. There is no economic profit in the Kindom. Instead we might look to the “Invest in the millenium” stanzas of Berry’s Manifesto poem. “Say that your main crop is the forest / that you did not plant, / that you will not live to harvest.”
- “[P]racticing resurrection” is living life for life and love itself; there is no purpose in this world. We have nothing to lose [in this world] because we have everything in Jesus.
For myself, I found that even the tomb of Holy Saturday begins the tail-wagging, though I’d never known there was a quote to match the feeling — let alone its source!! And the final stanza’s reference to the resurrection fox — “making more tracks than necessary / some in the wrong direction” — was a wonderful synchronicity to my 2014 Lenten fox of Mary Oliver’s Maker of All Things – Even Healings” and currently, of course, “our” neighborhood foxes.
I struggled a bit with an image for the Resurrection. I was not taken with (for these purposes) the Van Gogh suggestions from the SALT lectionary; tempted but not taken with Rembrandt’s Christ and St Mary Magdalene at the Tomb (is the top left angel playing marbles?).
Finally, I stumbled across a Jim Hasse, SJ prayer-poem and painting.
Yo Yo Ma said of his own art, “Am I trying to get it right?, or am I trying to find something?” I might paraphrase that as “Am I trying to find someone?” And, in Hasse’s prayer-poem, “Searching,” I find my resurrection this year is the insight that Jesus witnesses what life is like when we find Love Loving. We can’t live that experience every single moment. We’re human. But we can have faith that we will have resurrection when we let God find us, and we find God, and like Jesus and to God’s delight, abide in Love Loving for all eternity.