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The British author Graham Greene tells of the time that he waited two and a half years for a 15-minute appointment with the great Franciscan mystic Padre Pio, who resided in an Italian monastery. Padre Pio was reputed to be "a living saint" who bore on his body the "stigmata" or the wounds of Christ.
On the day Greene was due to meet with the priest, Greene first attended Mass celebrated by Padre Pio. They were to meet immediately after the Mass - but, instead, Greene left the church, headed for the airport and flew directly back to London.
When asked why he broke the appointment he had waited for two and a half years, Greene said, "I was not ready for the manner in which that man could change my life."
Many of us approach Easter with the same fear. We focus on the coming of spring, the family gatherings, the food and sweets of the season because we're not ready to deal with what Jesus' death and resurrection means. But in our hearts, we struggle like the Eleven who can't deal with Mary Magdalene's news. In raising his Son from the dead, God has re-created the world - including us. Are we ready - are we willing - to have our lives "re-created" in the Gospel principles of justice, mercy, forgiveness and humility?
During the Season of Lent, many of us at St. Francis Xavier were reading the book Resistance by Matthew Kelley. Even though we know what is best for us, we resist doing it. By no means is Easter a "sentimental" festival of spring flowers and chocolate Easter eggs. Easter's empty tomb is a call to the hard, demanding work of love - love that transforms, of forgiveness that heals and re-creates, of compassion that calls out of our own safe little "tombs" into the sometimes frightening light of the resurrection.
The Alleluias that we sing this Easter season call us to a joy and a hope that can re-shape our very lives. So sing thoughtfully and prayerfully over these next fifty days.