Easter Perspective from Ringwood Friary

Philip O’Shea, OFM Friar News

RINGWOOD, N.J. — As we approach the Easter season, it would seem necessary to consider the relationship of everyone and his or her condition toward the fundamentally joyous reality of the Resurrection. As a bedridden and ancient only child, I reflect on my relationship with the Paschal Mystery.

When one has been raised as an only child, the nature of grace and of the overall relationship with a loving and creative God takes on its own identity. One hears the term “brother” and “sister” in a fundamentally different way and this attitude becomes central to the assessment each one makes of his or her place in the world. I really do not know what it is to have a brother or sister and this reality sharpens the problem of relating to the world as my brothers and sisters.

I suggest, however, that this problem may be related to every person no matter how many siblings he or she may have. As I see things differently in one-to-one relationships, so every individual sees things from my point of view with regard to “others” unless he or she is truly educated — that is, brought to realize the inner sameness that unites us all.

Resurrection: a Marvelous Reunion
For Christians, the Resurrection means a marvelous reunion of each of us who was once alone as individual or group into a truly deep understanding of how we are all brothers and sisters. This is not an easy task and cannot become the family that is humanity unless we allow the Lord to direct our vision to this understand, which is fundamentally his. The problem of the other, which permeates our judgment of those things not immediate or at least familiar to our experience, governs much more completely our general attitude than perhaps we realize.

The example of our present disagreements over immigration demonstrates the difficulty we have in embracing others first as siblings rather than as aliens. It is only after a long Lent devoted to meditation upon the full meaning of the Incarnation that we are able to break out of our “only child” cocoon and truly enter into a world populated only by brothers and sisters whom we accept with care emphasizing what we share with them rather than what separates us by circumstance or deeds. We cannot love everything our siblings do, but we can allow ourselves to continue our love of them in spite of what they do. The Resurrection imposes upon us, the need to complete conversion as I, an only child, must seek to overcome the feeling of isolation which that condition produces.

Our Relationship to Christ
Unfortunately, the long history of the human race has demonstrated our unwillingness to open ourselves completely to others and the present situation offers harsh demonstrations of the difficulty present in the following of Christ. Again and again, would be Messiahs call us to follow a Christ that does not go as far in the demand for unity as Jesus of Nazareth. We have, in the past 2,000 years, been for the most part, partial Christians, allowing our relationship to Christ to be tempered by the more comfortable dimensions of familiar relationships. It is therefore, necessary in this our age to make the attempt so often tried before, to be human family. We have means at our disposal to make use of the products of human genius in a way never before possible. This realization, however, opens us to the reality of sin and can, as it has so often before, offered us a way out of the reality of our relationships, a way out we have often taken in the past.

On this Easter Day, in this so real existence, can we rise with Christ from the tomb of self-involvement and enter into a world of cooperation, perhaps defying the need of protection in order to take the risk of suffering and death because we know that while the dangers of suffering and death refers to passing events, the reality of Resurrection calls us to the eternal possession of life?

“Christ is risen from the dead, conquering death by death and to those in the tomb bestowing life and to us he has given life eternal and we worship his third day rising from the dead.”

Happy Easter! Alleluia!

– Fr. Philip, who professed his first vows as a Franciscan in 1973, has lived at the Province’s skilled nursing home in northern New Jersey since summer 2015. Philip is quoted in an article about the Holy Name Friary that appears in the Spring 2017 issue of  The Anthonian Franciscan magazine. 

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