Sunday, April 21, 2019

Homily for Easter Vigil for the Community of St. Bridget in Brecksville, OH. by Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP

Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP


It is probably safe to say that all of us are familiar with the transformation that takes place before a butterfly spreads its wings.  It’s within the chrysalis, or cocoon, that the “transformation” happens. From the outside it looks like the caterpillar is resting, but inside big things are happening – remarkable transformation called metamorphosis is going on as the caterpillar is changing its shape and form..  It is amazing to patiently watch the transfiguration from caterpillar to butterfly!  Many a person has marveled at this site!
As a mother, I, too, have witnessed the remarkable transformation that took place in my children as they grew and matured.  It was within my “womb” that the rudimentary stages of transformation happened, the stage that made them viable human creations.  From the outside of my body it looked like my belly was swelling, but inside big things were happening as this new life continuously changed its shape and form.  
The obvious difference between the transformation of the caterpillar into butterfly, and my children gestating within my body, is starkly different.
Once the butterfly escapes its confines, it reaches its maturity.  Now the butterfly is able to live a life that it was intended to live.  For the plant world, butterflies pollinate or carry pollen from plant to plant, helping fruits, vegetables, and flowers to produce new seeds. From the animal point of view, butterflies are near the bottom of the food chain and provide food (especially in their caterpillar stage) for birds, mammals, and other insects.   In addition, for us, each butterfly provides a unique beauty that lifts our spirits and allows us to marvel at our Creator’s magnificence.  And once its relatively short life is spent, it becomes fertilization by mixing with the nutrients of other forms of creation. Eventually it becomes new life for another species within the creative force of our universe.  A true transfiguration to be sure!
Within the human transformation process, once a child is born, it is quite evident that they still need loving care and nurturing to continue the maturation process of becoming a fully-grown member of the human race.  An infant has a long way to go before human maturity happens, both physically and spiritually.  I have found myself chuckling at people who believe once a developing child reaches the stage of human viability, they are considered fully formed.  Only a mother has the intimately unique advantage of knowing how untrue that statement is!
The human being is a complex, multifaceted creature, to say the least.  For all the potential a human has, the person must wait many years in search of  their full capacity.  Not only does our journey entail continued physical development, but also spiritual development.  And our enlightened understanding of being a fully developed human being embraces both. 
Each of us, made in the image and likeness of our Creator, experiences numerous opportunities for continued growth and development within our lifetime—we are never actually finished learning or being.  We are made with the capacity to continuously gain insight and understanding, both of the physical and spiritual world.   
This idea and thought is concretely manifested here at the Community of St. Bridget.  An example of this is that the traditional Catholic “penitential rite” that is normally found at the beginning of liturgical worship has been renamed our “transformation rite.” For we have realized and put into prayer form the main purpose of liturgical prayer as providing an opportunity for each individual to experience an inner transformation as they participate in the Eucharistic liturgy.  We believe that we do not go away from this communal experience without having been changed in some way.  And so we pray at the beginning of the service for the grace to let go of all the obstacles we encounter that would prevent us from accepting that change.
Tonight, we recall and celebrate the process of human transformation as actualized in the life, ministry, death and transfiguration of Jesus of Nazareth.   
In the words of scripture scholar, George Smiga, our services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday were not merely about action, as much as they were about continuation.  We continue to seek and find our true worth in the midst of all the injustice and torment our world puts at our feet.  We continue to study and pray over Jesus’ example of dying for what he believed in, for the reformation and renewal of God’s original design for all creation.  And we continue to witness that this Spirit of Jesus has broadened our limited perspective on who we are called to be.  He continues to rise in the minds and hearts of those who choose to answer the call to love and serve one another, no matter the consequences.  Jesus said, “You will do far more than I have done.”  Our work continues as we challenge ourselves by reflecting on the question: 
How does the effects of Jesus’ dying and rising continue to shape our lives?
May this Easter be a celebration of all things new for you and those you love!

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