Tag Archives: hope

In the face of death, celebrate

Last night I presided at the Celebration of the Word with Communion in the main church in Dulce Nombre. Every Thursday they have Adoration of the Eucharist all day and a Mass or Celebration of the Word in the evening.

It is a custom here to celebrate birthdays at the end of Mass, including their names in the intentions. I was given a note with two males with the same last names. There was also the name of another male with the same last names among the deceased. I wondered if the two celebrating birthdays were twins and if the deceased was their father.

Not so.

The two men celebrating birthdays were young men in their twenties. I had seen the spouse of one of them at Mass in Dulce Nombre before. They had been born two years apart and both were celebrating this week.

But the shock was that the deceased was their younger brother who had been murdered last week in one of the major cities of Honduras.

After the celebration I apologized for not being sensitive enough. But I told them to still celebrate – in the face of the murder of their brother. Then I said something like this.

We cannot give in to the power of death by not celebrating. By celebrating life, your birthdays, you are saying to death. We cannot let the power of evil prevail by refusing to celebrate. Celebrating life is a Yes to life, to God – and a powerful No to evil and to the Evil One.

I don’t know where these words came from, pure grace.  But the more I meditate on this the more I become convinced that the power of the Risen Christ and the celebration of life is central, a way not to let evil overwhelm us. For the powers of evil, “the principalities and powers” of this world, want to take away our hope.


Celebrating life is a powerful antidote.

The end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it
and I feel fine.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven
and the former earth had passed away.
Revelation 21: 1

 Today’s second reading from Revelation, reflecting Isaiah 65: 17-25 and Isaiah 25: 6-8, is one of my favorite passages, full of hope.

The promise that “God will wipe every tear from their eyes” always touches me deeply. We have a compassionate God who wants and promises something altogether different, altogether new.

When I spoke at the Antioch retreat for college students at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames, Iowa, I often recalled this passage and connected it with R.E.M.’s somewhat mysterious song which seems to reflect the problems of the old world and its values:

… world serves its own needs,
dummy serve your own needs…

… Save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs…

If it is the end of the world as we know it, with all its injustice and selfishness rampant, if a new heaven and a new earth are promised, that can help us live in a different way in the midst of the old earth.

But, if God is making all things new, how do we respond?

I think a verse from today’s Gospel, John 13: 34, offers us the way.

I give you a new commandment:
love one another.
As I have loved you,
so you also should love one another.

If we begin to live this new call to love, we will begin to offer signs of the new heavens and the new earth in the midst of the world as we know it.

And we will begin to feel fine – even if loving hurts, for our God present with us will wipe away all our tears.