Fr. Dave Anderson: An Easter Blessing
Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 3:43 PM PDT
Dear friends in Christ, Happy Easter!
During the past 40 days of Lent (a word which means springtime), we have been on a spiritual journey or pilgrimage with our Christian family throughout our world engaged in three spiritual practices: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are invited to remember that these experiences are what we are called to do all year, but especially during Lent so that we may grow closer to God. What have been the graces you've received?
Jesus promised his disciples, "I will be with you always!” He gives them the gift of His Holy Spirit, the gift of peace, hope, love, and joy and asks them to love one another. God's Spirit is something the world cannot give. We are often overwhelmed by messages through our media that power, honor, glory, and riches will satisfy us, but they always fail to deliver what they promise. These messages are empty promises ... Our true satisfaction comes when we surrender our lives to God's will, and ask God to help us understand, see and hear God around us each day. To be open to God's voice so that we can choose the path God desires for us. Every moment we turn to God in prayer, God is present to us like a mother and father are present to their child. God never fails us.
A few days ago I was visiting a close friend who 6 months ago became a grandfather. His son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, Heidi, were visiting from Denver and while we were having dinner, I was aware of the love that was present around the dinner table. Mom, dad and grandpa were filled with an indescribable joy because of the gift of Heidi. Every time she smiled or laughed, all of us laughed. We were mesmerized by her beauty, innocence and vulnerability.
I was reminded the next day of God's affection and love for us. God loves us like parents and grandparents love their child. God is overwhelmed with joy when we turn and offer God our attention and ask for the help we need.
Along with our prayer, fasting helps us grow spiritually. We reflect on our personal lives and ask, "Is there something that is getting in the way of God's love in my life?" Maybe I gossip about others; or I'm attached to my cell phone rather than engaging in conversation with those around me; or I need more exercise and less TV. All of us have attachments or areas of growth ... God is inviting us to let go of them so that God can come close to us and love us.
Fasting is not so much about what we are giving up as it is about what we are gaining: the peace and joy the Lord promises to those who make time for him.
Almsgiving and charity is another spiritual exercise we are called to do all year. We experience God most of the time in our relationships, especially with those close to us. Recall for a moment when you experienced God through your relationship with another person. You were able to see God in your friend or family member, you felt joy and peace for simply being in this person's company, and you gave God thanks for your relationship. Charity is doing something good for those we love. Simply being present to another person and listening to their story is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.
Almsgiving is also about helping those less fortunate than our self. Who are the people God wants us to reach out to? Charity is about slowing down and seeing those around us who seem to be isolated or alone. Who is being left out, who is on the margins? We do not have to look very far to see the poor, the sick and wounded around us each day.
Jesus' whole life was about serving the poor so that God's presence would be felt by everyone. As followers of Jesus, how is God inviting us to share love with those around us?
We are an Easter people! We are people of the resurrection! We are called to celebrate God's victory over sin and death.
Let us continue to be open to the many graces God wants to give to us, especially God's love. And let us love one another as God loves us.