In a little over a week, we will celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and this Easter celebration comes with a price. We sit with Christ and the apostles on Holy Thursday during the Seder meal. We enter into the passion with Christ and join our suffering with his.
The emotion humanity is united in is suffering. We all suffer, we all feel pain, and we all will die. That may seem like a dark and depressing picture, yet when we understand death and see the transition that occurs, we will feel less uneasy.
Death, on different levels, occurs around us each day, and death is not a permanent state and it is not bad.
We understand our relationships as they connect us in this life. We have family, spouses, friends and special people we are close to, and death takes them away from us.
We are united in death with Christ that we may rise with Christ. See your deceased loved one in your mind’s eye right now. See them being placed in the tomb with Christ. The rock is moved in front of the tomb and there is darkness and silence.
Maybe that is where you may be right now. There is a death of a friendship, marriage or perhaps the death of a vice or an addiction.
Place yourself on the road to Calvary and feel the pain as Jesus is beaten, whipped, spat on, jeered at and stripped of his clothes. Now unite the pain you experience and see Jesus looking into your eyes and telling you, “It is for this that I have come.”
Jesus came for each and every moment of your life and mine. No matter how bad it may get and no matter how long the road is without a bend, Jesus is there with us.
This is my final story for The Gannon Knight. Over the last four years, I have sat in front of my laptop and thought of you. I have never met some of you and may never meet some of you and yet, in some way, we are connected.
Please remember a few life lessons.
First, love God. Second, love everyone. Be Christ for this broken world. You must see Christ in all those you meet and be Christ for all who see you.
Please don’t be confined inside the box, but open that box, climb out and challenge the box maker. When you encounter conformity that stagnates the human freedom and growth, a point of view that isolates a particular orientation, when you are working within an institution that doesn’t allow thoughts and oppresses the mind, turn the table over and chase all of them out of the house.
The tomb is the box. You can sit in silence while the world keeps “doing what it has always done” or you can rise with Christ and proclaim the truth. You can sit in the darkness or step into the light. You can spit on Christ, because everyone else is, or you can be Simon and Veronica, risking everything for those being treated unfairly.
“Be not afraid” are the words spoken on his first papal appearance by soon-to-be St. John Paul II.
If you think for a moment that you can’t do something, you won’t. See it already done and work from there. Don’t be afraid of the road; there will be dangers and peaceful moments along the way. Stand up for what’s right. Don’t falter when someone in a higher office tells you to “be quiet and let it be.” Turn over the table and run them out!
As I turn over my office to my successor, I ask that there will always be a Spirit of truth upon you. Don’t be afraid to write; you have been given a very special gift and now use it to get the truth out. Familiarity breeds contempt and owe no man a favor that he may harness you. Find time to be quiet and ask for wisdom, and surely she will come.
To the class of 2014, thank you. We have shared many moments together and your strength helped me in my weakness.
To the administration, faculty, staff and friends who have been there every day, thank you. You will see the fruit of your labor and God will bless you for that.
To the future of Gannon University, “Be not afraid.” There is a divine plan that will unfold in life. With God as our steersman, we will never go astray.
Finally, Pete, thank you; for without you I would not be in this vineyard. May you have eternal rest.
L.I.F.E. – it gets better.