Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Third Sunday of Easter

Father John J. Lombardi

"Clear sighted men! Seeing with the spirit's eyes/ you have pierced the mystery./ In a luminous shade you proclaim/ a sharp living brightness/ that buds from a branch/ That blossomed alone/ when the radical light took root."

St Hildegarde of Bingen--abbess, counselor to popes and mystical prophetess (1098-1197)--penned these words about the Jewish prophets and the "radical light" Whom is Christ our Risen Lord. Barbara Newman, a hildegardian scholar, describes Jesus as the ongoing fulfillment of man's longing: "the divine Brightness, to be born of Mary, the virgin branch that 'blossomed' on the ancient tree of Jesse. Hildegarde's mystic tree is at the same time a human lineage and the tree of Life, whose root and flower are alike divine-'the radical light.' This tree is planted at the center of her cosmos and springs up everywhere: it is like a noble evergreen 'with roots in the sun,' 'planted in a cascade of transluscent shadow,' branching 'in the windy blast of the quest of the saints.'"

Ever since Adam and Eve's exile from Eden, we humans have been looking for the Garden-total harmony and blissful union with God, with the created (organic and material) world and other people…This Easter we should contemplate this supernatural destiny.

Adam and Eve were created perfectly, and lived naturally this way in the sensuous Garden of Delights. There was no sickness or death; there was total harmony between God, man and (matieral) creation-- all was right and beautiful: and now we are all trying to "get back there". As long as we are on Earth, this side of the Second Coming, there will be sickness, death and sin: dis-harmony between God, man and creation. We are outside the Garden, living in disharmony (with God and other creatures), disunion (our souls and bodies are atrophying) and dissonance (St Augustine said, "Our hearts are ever restless until they rest in thee, O God").

In the Resurrection narrative of St. John, 20:15, did you ever notice that Mary Magdala thought Jesus was a gardener ? It seems (by inference) that Jesus, in this way, is coming back to restore us to the Garden; that He wants us back in the original (organic) state-harmony with God, man and creation; and that in His Resurrection He is restoring all things back by and to Himself (Eph, 1:10.) The cosmos, once deranged and disfigured by sin, is healed: The Gardener has come back to make His once sensuous and spiritual Garden attractive and open to His friends. We were "kicked out of the Garden of Eden" (the word means delight) and the Risen Jesus is "tilling His creation and creatures" to heal us.

Along the way, Jesus wants us to have refreshment and "small renewals" through the "Tree of Life"-which is everywhere. This is the Divine Medicine of the Mass, Jesus' Sacrifice to free us from sin, to heal and elevate us and "pace" us along the way toward eternity-and also to foreshadow the Garden of Eden/Heaven. The Tree of the Mass (always present and available)helps us long for that total state of bliss, harmony and union which our ancestors-Adam and Eve-were created in. We will never be totally happy (blissful) until then.

This will arrive only in the Second Coming of Jesus when our bodies and souls will be unified; when creation will be restored, and all the saved will meet again in God

  • Have you noticed the "sacramental principle"?- The opulent fragrance of the Easter lillies, the joyful brightness of mums, the enchanting light of azaleas and dogwoods in Churches and near altars: in a partial-sacramental-way, this recreates the Original Garden and whets our spiritual appetites for what we are aiming at (life with God in the Heavenly Garden) and links the "earthly garden" and trees with the Tree of the Cross (given by the Supreme Creator and Author of Life, Jesus) which stands everywhere a Mass is said, awaiting for souls to inbibe in the Divine Medicine and "Sacred Sap of Life"-Jesus in His Body and Blood.
  • Recall the Station of the Cross: Jesus is stripped naked. Adam and Eve were created supernaturally naked and lovingly natural, originally made free and without embarrassment in a pristine beauty (without any human, fabricated adornment-clothing).

Jesus' Passion completes the Reversal: as Adam and Eve were eventually embarrassed over their nakedness after the Fall , Jesus-the New Adam-- when carrying the Tree of Life, is stripped naked to remind us how much God wants that unembarrassed, supernaturally sensuous and divine union with Him, with one another and the world-without human fabrication (clothing)-the beginning has an end-a divine end!.*********

EASTER AND THE GLORIFIED BODY: Excerpt from Otto, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Tan: 1974), describing attributes of the Resurrection/glorified body: (read Phil 3:21). "Subtilitas: is a spiritualized nature, which, however,is not to be conceived as a transformation of the body into a spiritual essence or as a refinement of the matter into an ethereal body (cf. Lk 24:39). The archetype of the spiritualized body is the risen body of Christ, which emerged from the sealed tomb and penetrated closed doors (Jn 2;19,26). The intrinsic reason of the spiritualization of the body lies in the complete dominion of the body by the transfigured soul in so far as it is the essential form of the body(p. 492)***

SILENCE IN CHURCH? The New Roman Missal (Official Mass Prayer-Book of the Church) is approved and will soon be implemented in our States. We note: "Silence is promoted and encouraged to foster a meditative spirit, especially silent recollection before Mass begins and moments of silence after the readings and after the homily." (Source: National Catholic Register)

HUMAN CLONING: President Bush gave a beautiful and bold speech on the evils of scientific and therapeutic cloning (both are dangerous, evil and unethical according to him and our Church). President Bush questioned "embryo farms," "designer tissues" and said that "life is a creation not a commodity". Thank God he made this speech and is leading the way in this gigantically important issue!

Read other writings by Father John J. Lombardi