Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Happy second Sunday of Easter! One great gift of the Church calendar is that we spend several weeks celebrating Easter. That gives us the opportunity to savor the Easter gifts that Jesus showed in His appearances to the disciples after His death and resurrection.
Today’s gospel reading is one that many of us identify with. We see in Thomas the doubts and questions that we ourselves have about eternal life and what death means for us who live as Easter Christians. There are so many delicious details to this story that we could savor, but I want to focus us on just one detail today so that we can explore it in relationship with our own lives. That detail is the “locked door.”
The evangelist makes certain that we notice the door by mentioning it twice. First the door is locked by the disciples out of fear of what might happen to them now that Jesus has been put to death. Hiding in the upper room, the disciples thought they were safe from disturbance, but a locked door proved to be no obstacle to the Risen Lord. In His resurrection, Jesus appears wherever he wants. The barrier to those who would harm the disciples is not meant for Him and Jesus appears to defy the laws of nature by appearing and disappearing at will.
I believe the evangelist deliberately wrote about the locked door for our sakes. Unlike a wooden door that Jesus can pass through without difficulty, the locked door of our hearts is impenetrable unless we are willing to open our hearts. If the evangelist wanted us to contemplate that locked door, we might ask ourselves, “From what part of my life or of my heart have I locked out Christ?” Like the first disciples we may fear that letting Christ fully into our lives would demand changes—changes in how we live, changes in who our friends are, or changes in how we make a living. Letting Christ fully into our lives could mean exposing our fears to Him or revealing our lack of full faith; or it might mean allowing Jesus to see all that is unworthy and shameful about us. Some of us would rather die than be so vulnerable. In His resurrection, Jesus can appear to us, but are we willing to let Him into our hearts fully?
The second time this gospel mentions the door, it is no longer locked but it is closed. By now, most of the disciples have seen Jesus and come to believe He is the Risen Lord; but Thomas has not yet seen Him. The door to his heart remains closed. Who knows why? Perhaps it is because he simply cannot believe the unbelievable wonder of the resurrection. Maybe, it is because Thomas has been so immersed in his own grief that Jesus died and with Him, all Thomas’s dreams for a brighter future, that Thomas cannot move out of grief to embrace joy. Perhaps Thomas’s lack of faith is based in his inability to trust the experience of the Christian community that already has experienced the Risen Lord. Thomas was very much in the modern Christian’s shoes in this matter. Until we encounter the joy of other Christians, we may not be able to fully trust in the story of Easter. However, when we move from doubt to trust, our hearts are opened to having our personal experience of Christ raised from the dead. Once we have experienced Christ in our own lives, we no longer depend on others’ faith to sustain us. We can be filled with joy and confidence in God’s love because we know it through Jesus Christ. And finally, we are able to witness to our Risen Lord through our own lives. As we share the good news with others, we, too, will encounter closed doors. Whether the door is closed to Christ or to a particular element of the good news, such as our role as stewards of creation, some will not open the door of their hearts.
Since we are committed to living as good stewards of creation, we want to bear witness to the goodness of the Earth and our responsibility toward it. Even so, many people—even among Christians—do not acknowledge our responsibility to heal the wounds of pollution that cause climate change for our planet. Their hearts may be closed to the possibility that God loves every inch of creation and desires that we do the same. We can guess at the reasons behind this closed door. Perhaps it is fear of the changes that healing the earth requires. Perhaps, they fear honestly evaluating their own role in contributing to the wounds of the Earth. Perhaps they fear losing jobs, income or a lifestyle that is unsustainable. Rather than pushing against this closed door, we might want to give a purer, more transparent witness to the gospel call to simple living in our own lives to win them to this part of the gospel. We need to acknowledge the challenges that we all face in considering the impacts of our decisions, and so validate the struggle it takes to live sustainably. Just as Jesus offered his wounded hands and sides to Thomas to touch, we can reveal our own wounds and struggles to become more eco-friendly in order to encourage others on the journey. Opening the closed door to another’s heart may be as simple as sharing our own struggles on the journey with them.
Locked doors. Closed hearts. The joy of faith in the Risen Christ. The strength to live as He has shown us the way. The gentle sharing of wounds. The acceptance of Risen Life. It is ours to possess and ours to share this Sunday of Easter.
The Green Nun's Favorite Links
- Audubon Society
- Carbon Footprint Calculator
- Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
- E Magazine
- Earth Literacy Masters Program at SMW College
- Environment California
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Forest Ethics
- Friends of the Earth
- Global Climate Change Report
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Ocean Conservancy
- Pacific Environment
- Sierra Club
- The Nature Conservancy
- Union of Concerned Scientists
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