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'The Case for Christ' and a stubbornly historical religion

Easter is more than
a holiday

Concerning Mary,
think big!

Five hundred years
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placeholder May 8, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

The risen Christ is depicted in the painting "Resurrection" by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna.
BRIDGEMAN IMAGES/cns

Easter is more than a holiday

Rev. Richard Mangini

Please don't get stuck in Easter as one historical moment locked in time. This moment has changed the purpose and the destiny of human life and history. That is what we believe as Roman Catholic Christians.

The Resurrection of Jesus has opened a new space for us to enter with cosmic connections and transformational consequences that we must see and understand for ourselves.

What does Easter mean for us?

We may not find the Risen Jesus coming through our locked door, but we may find him looking our fears and our prejudices in the eye and encouraging us to transform them. We do not lock up the Risen Jesus in a devotion or a religious painting or a relic.

Where will the Risen Jesus appear to me today? He may not appear as a warm loving presence but rather as a blinding light, showing us a new awareness and truth about ourselves, challenging us to put our hands in the wounds of others and into the circumstances where we need to be understanding and merciful.

So here is a question to provoke spiritual reflection and fraternal connection that is at the heart of the Easter mystery: Do you appreciate the work and service of undocumented immigrants as cooks and servers in restaurants, maids and service workers in the hotel industry, as gardeners, as landscapers? These faceless servers at the bottom of our worker-bee society sustain and help all of us to be served and accommodated in many points of service that we take for granted. Can we open our hearts to them in full welcome as fellow citizens?

Our broken and dysfunctional immigration laws have never helped many of them to respond to become full citizens. Requests to move forward in legal processes have been thwarted and unanswered and blocked. That cannot be, you say.

Well, perhaps you need to talk to actual illegal immigrants, law-abiding and tax paying "quasi" citizens who do their part bringing cultural riches to our country.

What has this to do with the Resurrection of Jesus? It has to do with Holy Spirit inspired openness, change of heart and mind, the fullness of a love that is greater than our human love, a mind and heart touched by redemption and hope that is Easter!

What about those laws that claim obedience and punishment? For more than 20 years, no federal administration has wanted to address them in any just, practical and fraternal way. "Throw them out" is neither practical, fraternal, just or an attitude of the Risen Jesus.

"You are entering politics," you may respond.

Yes, the Resurrection of Jesus affects politics because politics affects people. The Resurrection of Jesus should affect the mind and hearts of Catholic Christian people, and their attitudes and their decisions.

Many people find this attitude highly inflammable, but it touches the heart of our faith, and the heart of who we are. And to stop going to the Catholic Church because someone confronts such contradictions to our faith is not the answer either.

Finding another parish or church draws us backwards into spiritual isolation. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the implication of the Resurrection are not a façade. That is why our personal transformation accompanies our experience of the Resurrection today.

It is clear today that the Catholic Church does not run away when someone wants to stick Jesus back at an Easter day.

The point of Easter is more than our Resurrection to a new life at the moment of our death. The point of the Resurrection is the complete transformation of who we are, of all things, and of all situations into "the full stature of Christ." (Ephesians 3:16-19;4:19)

(Father Richard Mangini is pastor at St. Bonaventure Parish, Concord. The was his message for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23.)


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