The Christian community is fast approaching Easter and the celebration of the life and resurrection of Jesus. Maundy (Holy) Thursday acknowledges the events immediately prior to the end of Jesus life, including the last supper. “Good Friday,” acknowledges the significance of the death of Jesus on the cross and comes three days before Easter. Easter Sunday is the climax and focal point and rightly so. In reality, the true essence of the ministry of Jesus is not about death but life! Yes, Jesus spoke of “dying to live”, of sacrifice and of “laying down one’s life,” but the sine qua non of the Gospel story is found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 10, vs. 10: “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” Through many years of pastoral experience I have found that what many people fear most is not death but life. For many reasons, people are often afraid to really embrace life. They often lack the courage to choose life and to be “fully born,” into this world and to embrace life unconditionally so they can experience all the thrills and challenges of being human. One of my favorite parables illustrates the point:
Once upon a time, twin boys were conceived in the same womb. Seconds, minutes, hours passed as the two dormant lives developed. The spark of the life glowed until it fanned fire with the formation of their embryonic brains. With their simple brain came feeling, and with feeling, perception; a per caption of surrounding, of each other, of self.
When they perceived the life of each other and their own life, they knew that life was good. and they laughed and rejoiced, the one saying, “Lucky are we to have been conceived and to have this world,” and the other chiming in, “Blessed be the Mother who gave us this life and each other.”
Each budded and grew arms and fingers, lean legs and stubby toes. They stretched their lungs, churned and turned in their newfound world. They explored their world and in it found the life cord which gave them life from the precious Mother’s blood. So they sang, “How great is the love of the Mother that she shares all she has with us?” And they were pleased and satisfied with their lot.
Weeks passed into months, and with the advent of each new month, they noticed a change in each other and each began to see changes in himself. “We are changing,” said the one. “What can it mean?”
“It means,” replied the other, “that we are drawing near to birth.” An unsettling chill crept over the two, and they both feared, for the knew that birth meant leaving all their world behind.
Said the one, “Were it up to me, I would live here forever.”
“We must be born,” said the other. “It has happened to all others who were here.” For indeed there was evidence of life there before, as the Mother had borne others.
“But mightn’t there be a life after birth?”
How can there be life after birth?”, cried the one, “Do we not shed our life cord and also the blood tissues? And have you ever talked to one that has been born? Has anyone ever re-entered the womb after birth? NO!” He fell into despair, and in his despair he moaned, “If the purpose of conception and all our growth is that it be ended in birth, then truly our life is absurd.”
Resigned to despair, the one stabbed the darkness with his unseeing eyes and as he clutched his precious life cord to his chest said, “If this is so, and life is absurd, then there really can be no Mother.”
“But there is a Mother, “ protested the other. “Who else gave us nourishment and our world?”
We get our own nourishment, and our world has always been here. Andi if there is a Mother, where is she? Have you ever seen her? Does she ever talk to you? No! We invented the Mother because it satisfied a need in us. It mad e us feel secure and happy.”
Thus, while one raved and despaired, the other resigned himself to birth, and placed his trust in the hands of the Mother.
Hours ached into days, and days fell into weeks, And it came time, Both knew their birth was at hand, and both feared what they did not know.
They cried as they were born into the light. They coughed out fluid and gasped the dry air. And when they were sure they had been born, they opened their eyes seeing for the first time, and found themselves cradled in the warm love of the Mother! They lay open-mouthed and awe-struck before that beauty and truth they could not have hoped to have known!