An Easter Double Feature – Prose by Philip Shano, SJ and Poetry by Greg Kennedy, SJ
Easter and the Office of Consoler by Philip Shano, SJ
Christ is Risen! Happy Easter! When St Ignatius invites us to pray with the Resurrection of the Lord, he invites us to “consider the office of consoler that Christ our Lord exercises, and compare it with the way in which friends are wont to console each other.”
The office of consoler! I’ve always liked that phrase. It sums up so much about the significant ways in which we so present to one another. We are always in need of consolation and the compassion and strength received from others. Jesus offered that gift and he invites us to imitate his example.
Recall some of the ways in which the Resurrected Lord fulfills the office of consoler. There is the experience of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They go to the tomb and are told that Jesus has been raised. Later, when they met him, he said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee.” The women are among the first evangelists. Jesus commissions the disciples to “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
Offering consolation is associated with encouraging one another to not be fearful, but to go and spread the Good News to others. The consolation from the Risen Jesus is a reminder of his abiding presence. What comforting words they are for people who are discouraged by the fearful reality of our world, especially in a time of pandemic, as well as all the usual misery, violence, bloodshed, poverty, and inequality.
“Be not be afraid. Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” And this presence is one of peace. “Peace be with you.”
One of my favourite Resurrection stories is the Walk to Emmaus. I love how the eyes of the disciples were opened, so that they recognized the Risen Lord. “Were not our hearts burning within us, while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
They were sad at the start of the walk, but not after the fire is kindled by the Lord. They go forward and share their consolation and desire with their companions. Part of the consolation offered by the Lord is that of revelation and apostolic energy and enthusiasm. Their hearts were on fire.
Jesus continues to play that role, particularly through our actions. The ministry of consolation occurs when we release people from their fears, when we bring them peace, when we evangelize, when we help them to recognize Christ, and when we give them hope.
It was St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), in her famous prayer, Christ Has No Body, who reminds us that we are the body of Christ. – the body, the hands, the feet, the eyes. That is how we bring about the sharing of consolation with those in need.
Most of us would love to live our entire lives in the spirit of the Resurrection, in the peace and reassurance of the Lord’s presence. Too much in our lives and the world conspires against that. That’s probably okay. If we were living in bliss, we would no longer have need for God.
Easter grace is elusive and hard to pin down. I think of it whenever I pray with the Canticle of Zechariah, from Luke’s Gospel: “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The key words are tender compassion, dawn breaking upon us, and being guided into a way of peace. Easter blessings be with you and your families as we celebrate this Easter!
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Easter with Ecclesiastes by Greg Kennedy, SJ Assembled around the mouth of a tomb without a tongue the last of us cleaning staff look in to see what work’s to be done. But the tomb is well swept and the linens finely folded; to the guest who just checked out housekeeping is much beholden. So, for us now the day is done— long day of chasing dirt and dust; we can point our sore feet home to join our kids on the Easter hunt for sweetness, for springtime, and, most of all, for fun.