Sunday, March 31, 2013

"The Feast of Victory"

This is the feast of victory for our God
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

A few weeks ago, I attended a talk on the battle that's raging in our world - not the battles in the Middle East or in political circles, but the battle for souls. The priest related our task on earth to that of soldiers on a battlefield, fighting for life and pulling our fallen friends back to safety, building up an army for good and for God. There's no doubt in my mind that we're in the midst of a struggle and that we need to have courage to fight against evil. Although I agreed with the points he was making (and he had pretty powerful examples), I wasn't moved to action, so I spent a lot of time analyzing why not.

What I decided is that beauty is a much more powerful image to me than battle. I long for beauty and take comfort in finding it, whereas I shy away from confrontation. In a battle, I would be the nurse taking care of the soldiers, not one of the infantry. My mission is to take care of those around me and win over others through compassion and rational dialogue, which, in a sense, is still fighting the battle.

Another priest gave a homily the other day on his time in the Middle East as an air force chaplain. Each morning he spent time sitting on a picnic table, staring at the beautiful mountains in the distance. An officer walked by many mornings and one day stopped to ask what he was doing. The officer started sitting with him each morning in silence, staring at the mountains. To me that was a great reminder that even amidst war, there is still beauty, and we need to take time to recognize and appreciate it.

Jesus' death was a terrible event in history. He battled not just pain from scourgings, thorns, and nails, but also from scorn, abandonment, and despair. He was alone fighting for what was true, pouring out His blood for the souls of those who killed Him. What passion, what love! The road to the cross was painful and difficult, but it was beautiful, just as it's beautiful when a mother sacrifices sleep to sooth her baby, night after night, without complaint or recognition for her dedication.

Jesus fought the war against death and won. What a victory that is for the whole world - not just for one nation or one people, but for all. We're on the winning side. Although we know the outcome of the war, battles are still raging all around. On this Easter day, with the hymn "This is the Feast of Victory" still ringing in my ears from mass, the battle is real. The hymn has such power behind it with an organ and a whole congregation proclaiming Jesus' triumph over death. This is what we believe, and we're witnesses in the way we live our lives. Beauty and battle both have a role in the world today, as they did on the cross. How are we contributing?


Happy Easter!

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