BISHOP LUIS RAFAEL ZARAMA: A transformative moment

Posted April 5, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT

Outer Banks Sunset (Photo courtesy of The Lost Colony)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama of The Diocese of Raleigh which serves the eastern half of the state of North Carolina.

Before all of us were asked to stay at home I encountered a beautiful sunset along the coast of our state and took one picture after another, trying to capture the beauty of that changing moment. It was impossible to determine which of those pictures was the best. In the end I realized I was so busy in the journey of trying to capture a perfect picture, that I forgot to simply accept and enjoy the gift of that beautiful moment.

I was reminded of that moment during this time of “quarantine” not because of the memory of a place or time I cannot visit, but because of the “moment’ we find ourselves in. Easter is a season of joy and hope. We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection at a time when everything was thought to be lost, but when love and life triumphed.

When God descended from heaven to us in the form of Jesus, he found a kingdom that enslaves, persecutes, fights for power and has contempt for the dignity of human beings. Our world today is still an earthly kingdom that values power and wants us to believe we must make and control our own destiny. The phones we carry in our pockets give us great power with access to so much knowledge and information at our fingertips and the ability to capture and share those “moments” and shape how others see our lives.

Jesus did not sidestep the reality in which we human beings live. He accepted it and made it part of his own human history, not to indulge it or to please it, but to redeem it and save it. Jesus’ plan was to transform the ills of the world with love, forgiveness, mercy, service, and a heart open to vulnerability, to show us that there is a different way.

Yet, Jesus’ plan seems all too simplistic in today’s complicated world. The Gospel tells us to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. This simple plan is challenging when we fall in love with power and our own destinies and fail to put other’s needs first.  God’s plan is challenging when we don’t accept that our destiny in this world and until eternity, is Love.

How fragile we are that even in our technological and economically advanced world something so small can so thoroughly change the direction of our lives. However, maybe it is in this moment that God is challenging us to appreciate what is really important. Looking closely, we might discover that even in subtle ways in our own lives, we find ourselves valuing “control” over love.  How much we need now the humility to recognize our complete lack of control and our own need for the transforming power of Jesus’ love.

The Lord always invites us to see ourselves and the world through his camera, which can only see with the eyes of love. He wants us to know that because of our weaknesses, insecurities, fears, wounds, resentments, hatreds, and lusts, there is someone who loves us, not in spite of all these failings, but because of them. Through this lens he reveals to us our greatness – our true potential and destiny - as children of God.

What a time to reflect on the wonder and the glory of all this! The time leading up to Easter is always a time of reflection and conversion. In a way only God understands, the calendar of our Church is aligned with this time in our world.  We may be temporarily isolated from one another, yes.  But the world itself has paused.  We need to make the most of that moment.

Let us use our technology to connect, not to divide. Perhaps that phone call to a loved one will be to them like the voice of Jesus. Perhaps the inability to gather together will give us time to reflect on the Word of Jesus and hear for the first time what he is truly teaching and challenging of us to become in and for this world.

I pray that for all of us this Easter season we will hear the Good News in a world that needs good news now more than ever. I pray that solitude and idleness will be used for deep reflection and conversion, that we might come to realize, what truly matters in human life. And I pray that this Easter will not be simply a “moment” but become for all humanity a new reality where we will sincerely allow God’s beauty and love to transform us.

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