The world is buzzing with excitement.
I have heard gripes and seen grins about the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, which will happen tomorrow with much pomp. To be honest, I wish I didn’t have other things going on and could sit down in front of the TV and watch it. I am sure that I’d cry a bit as I watched two beautiful people commit to each other in the presence of God, the world-famous and influential, as billions of people look on. As you probably know, a lot of people are ecstatic and are gearing up to celebrate with the royal family. Yet others are critical because it is such an expensive event and the money could be used for better purposes.
Another exciting, yet somewhat controversial, event is happening this weekend. On Sunday Pope John Paul II will be beautified. The opinions about his beatification are varied. Personally I am very excited (as I am every time a holy person is honored for her or his wisdom and influence).
I am not unlike other Catholics of my generation; I love JPII. I have been touched by his leadership and teachings. As I grew into the Catholic faith, many of my questions were answered when I studied the letters from my far-away “Grandpa.” For example, JPII’s theology of the body writings helped me gain much clarity about sexuality. I wish I could have met JP II in his lifetime, but am comforted to know that I can pray to him for some advocacy in heaven while I try to do the work that he encouraged: convincing people of their dignity.
I understand the concerns of people who are opposed to JPII’s quick move toward sainthood, too. I know people who have publicly protested his canonization. They are upset because his personal positions and opinions seemed to impact his leadership (as he discouraged socialism and rejected women’s ordination, for example). Is he worthy of being named “Blessed” if he practiced discrimination? On Sunday, though, I will celebrate Pope JPII’s influence in my own life and thank God for the contributions of the holy man to great peacemaking around the globe.
In a discussion about world excitement I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the important, but non-joyful events that have happened recently and probably challenge the faith and hope of many people. There’s been a sweep of disasters across the nation. Specifically, the news about the tornadoes in Alabama brought tears to my eyes this morning. My heart still aches for the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Japan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Haiti, and for inner-city youth. As we celebrate joyful events we must be attentive to suffering and disturbed by injustice.
During all of these occasions people unite. In disasters, divided people suddenly have no choice but to survive and rebuild as community. On both sides of divisive violence, the tears look the same. During the royal wedding, when everyone is hearing the same music and prayers, politics and opinions probably won’t matter much. Undoubtedly, on Sunday Catholics- and other Christians of all types shall unite in their prayers and parties. Our human, global lives bring us together and help us remember that we’re in this together.
It’s Easter time. Jesus is back and he’s helping us make sense of everything he taught. He’s re-explaining that it is communion around open, inclusive tables that unite us. As we break the bread and share it with other – no matter our differences- we become more the same. We become his body. In us, Christ lives. Together we celebrate as one body, the Body of Christ. Thanks be to God!