Cleaning Up
the Mess

by Fr. Gabriel Stack, O.Praem.


Regardless of how long ago or how recently, every child has heard at least one more time than he wanted that slightly shrill and somewhat frantic exclamation, Look at what you’ve done! As well as the more sonorous and calm, Clean up this mess.  Bliss shatters; and the child begins to see things from another point of view. Begins to take one more step forward in that journey toward maturity.

Seeing things from another point of view and journeying towards maturity is the purpose of this Easter Season and the Sacred Liturgy. This purpose is expressed in many different ways. The Liturgy expresses the divine perspective as moving from darkness to light.

In the readings, the apostles are in the darkness of a prison cell and are released into the light by an angel of the Lord. In the Gospel, Nicodemus is in the dark about the true role of Jesus. And Jesus Himself explains that the only begotten Son came into the world not to condemn it but rather that the world might be saved through Him. The great patristic commentators on these passages explain that the physical and intellectual darkness are but expressions of a more serious spiritual nature: the absolute blackness of sin and the resplendent light of salvation. 

There are important implications — in the light of the resurrection we can see more clearly. But it’s not necessarily a more beautiful soul we actually see.  It is an “Aha!” moment when we recognize what a mess we’ve created. And cleaning up this mess is the challenge of the Easter season. In calm and sonorous tones St. Augustine advises us, “Destroy, oh man, what you have created so that God can save what He has created.”

Salvation, not judgment, is the direct purpose of Jesus’ mission on earth.  And so, individual men and women fashion their own salvation by their recognition of and response to Jesus in the concrete details of every day – each expresses His presence among us. 

Each time we do this well, we move more fully into the transforming light of the resurrection.  Which is why the Church in her universal prayer of the Sacred Liturgy asks in the Prayer over the Offerings… “grant, that, as we have come to know Your truth, we may make it ours by a worthy way of life.”  And in the Prayer after Communion… “lead those You have imbued with heavenly mysteries to pass from former ways to newness of life.” 

In the clear light of the resurrection and the abundant graces of this Easter Season, may we work quickly and courageously to clean up whatever mess remains and commit ourselves to the new way of a worthy life in Jesus Christ.

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