Two baby girls were born. Alleluia!
The gift of life.
They are 9 days old today. Each of a different family and circumstance.
In one family, this baby is so very precious. All kinds of tiny baby wardrobe already fill the drawers, the bassinette is ready, the family glows with the light of new life. The name is carefully chosen, a christening is carefully planned. The life of this new bundle of joy is offered to God.
For the second baby, the circumstances of the mother changed during her pregnancy. Her husband has left her, she has no work, she is afraid. Where she lives is riddled with violent crime, even rape. Her baby is also very precious to her, but her life is full of desperate worries.
On Holy Thursday the second mother came through our gates. Unobserved, she went furtively down the front stairs behind the main lobby. Discretely, she left her baby there, wrapped in a blanket.
Amaral goes up and down those same stairs ten times a day. On Holy Thursday, he went downstairs for a bucket, and came upstairs with a baby.
The same way the mother of Moses placed her precious child in a basket, where the Nile River took him downstream to Pharaoh’s Court, this mom also surely thought that downstream would offer a much better life for her child, than she could offer.
For this second baby, there is no cooing family gathered around her, no drawers filled with tiny gowns. Not even a name. She is being cared for now in ICU.
Although the human pathos is so very evident, there is something deeper we must understand.
In the case of both babies, the child has life because she is born from the unbroken chain of life that goes back to the finger of God, enlivening the dust that was Adam, to make him a living and breathing person.
These girls are born out of a procession of days, years, centuries, and millennia that make up the unbroken chain of life. They, and we, are ever ancient, and ever new.*
Both of these precious girls now carry the ancient torch of life forward. They are humanity made new and fresh, unique and never to be repeated children of God.
Today we celebrate with joy of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus did not stay dead.
The same hand that touched the lifeless Adam to give him life, now restores the dead Jesus to life, not just with a touch ,but with a full and eternal embrace.
In the world of nature, high tide in the east is low tide in the west. Summer in the north is winter in the south. Cold here means hot there. Then, it all turns around.
In the world of soul and spirit, because Jesus is risen, dust becomes life, life becomes dust, and then dust becomes life eternally.
Springtime is now showing the resilience of life in nature, that comes from the hand of God.
It is impossible to calculate the number of leaves appearing as buds, on countless branches, on countless trees, in countless places on earth at this very moment, the beginning of springtime.
This is a massive and powerful reassertion of life, after months of the solitary cry of the cold winter winds, whirling dead leaves in meaningless circles.
Nature moves from barrenness to an unbelievable burst of gorgeous life.
Each tree comes to life from the unbroken chain of the life of trees in its line, all the way back to the first tree.
Pope Francis calls the news of the Resurrection of Jesus the greatest news ever announced in human history.
Aside from his physical resurrection, this good news is that the unbroken chain of the communion of souls is restored, from the very beginning of time and unto eternity.
Unlike the life of trees, the gift of human life comes with a uniquely created soul, made for communion with God and with each other. This communion at the level of the soul is not bound by time or place.
Our oneness at the deepest level of the soul means that we are all in this together, by God’s design, both in the visible world and in the deeper invisible world of soul life.
We draw on each other’s wisdom, visions, greatness, down through the ages past and into tomorrow.
Jesus is risen from the dead means that there are no longer any physical, psychological, or temporal limits to love or to life. Absolutely no limits of any kind, not even death.
Our souls are powerful. They enable us to know, to understand, to think about things, to reason, to learn, to decide and to choose.
They give us access to many mysteries that are not physical, like dreams and visions, inspirations and revelations.
They lead us by deep attraction to everything in life that is good, beautiful, noble, and true- to everything that bears the light of life and of love.
Pope Francis just reminded us, on Good Friday, that our souls also have the beautiful power to correct us, through the painful grace of shame. This is how we set ourselves right again, when we have offended goodness, truth, light, life or love.
Risen from the grave, the Holy Savior is present with us now in a new way. This new way imposes very practical obligations on us.
In the face of the difficulties and challenges of life, we cannot afford to give any place to cynicism, to despair, or fatalistic thinking in our lives.
We must go forward with hope, with enthusiasm, and with confidence.
We must give no foothold to pride, to arrogance, to the selfish games of the ego, to competition, to pettiness, or to aggression, not in any form, in the way we deal with each other.
We must rather go forward seeking serenity, seeking balance, fairness, respect, collaboration, and humbly (with no blowing of our trumpets) seeking a future that we build together, by God’s design, to benefit the whole human family and creation itself.
In the story of the first apostles, it is so very evident that they spent the last days of Jesus’ life hiding in the shadows, taking full distance from his torments, and denying that they even knew him.
Very soon after his resurrection, when they have encountered his resurrected person, they start appearing in public places, speaking boldly of their encounter with their luminous Savior, and they feel driven to bring this wonderful and soulful news, to the farthest corners of the world- even if it were to mean their death. (Which for many it did.)
This chain of soul life is unbroken to our day.
It is why without cynicism, despair, or harsh judgement, we follow the Lord’s command to care for each other, especially for the sick, the abandoned, the orphan, the widow, the destitute.
Far from being charity, it is imperative.
Far from being pity, it is how we work our salvation together.
How perverse it would be to do good works for our own glory.
Let Christians everywhere celebrate at Easter this great cause of our joy, and turn our minds and hearts to this enlightened (literally), way of thinking and living.
May people of good will of any faith, or of no professed faith, rejoice with Christians at Easter, and both support us in our efforts, and correct us in our errors, as we carry the God light in the way it is given to us to understand it and carry it.
By doing so, Christians try to relieve, enrich and benefit the whole human family.
I wish for you and your families at Easter and always, the joy and peace that only God can give.
Port au Prince HAITI
April 1, 2018
*Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, The Vatican, 1512