Tonight’s litany of readings invites us to remember what has mattered to God over the course of humanity’s tumultuous relationship with God: the goodness and beauty of creation; faithfulness to being beloved; liberation for enslaved peoples; hearts softened by tender mercy; trust in the abundance of grace; desire for Wisdom. These things matter to God.
Perhaps it was remembering these things that gave the women from Galilee the courage to quietly prepare their spices of mourning and slip away from the upper room with all of its shame and guilt and fear. Maybe they recalled these things as they traversed the dangerous darkness—of Jerusalem and their own grief—in order tend to the Teacher. Maybe it was the memory of these things that made it possible for them to believe that something impossible might have happened in his tomb, now empty.
No doubt the things that matter to God burst back into the upper room along with them as they breathlessly reported that “the living one” was not “among the dead”!
Indeed, what good news this is for us disciples today! None of the things of our upper room mentality—paralyzing horror at the Golgothas of our time so fresh in our minds, despair at our failures and betrayals, desolation that nothing ever changes, fear about what might come next—can entomb the “way out of no way” that is the Living One.
God’s love still matters and is bursting into the upper room. Live in the joy of possibility!
- Which of the things that matter to God matter most to you?
- If you had to describe the atmosphere in your “upper room”, what would it feel like?
- What possibility promised by the resurrection have you been longing for?
After eight years in the Theology Department at Fordham University, Maureen H. O’Connell returned in 2013 to her native city of Philadelphia to Chair the Department of Religion at LaSalle University where she is also an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics. She holds a BA in History from Saint Joseph’s University and a PhD in Theological Ethics from Boston College. She authored Compassion: Loving Our Neighbor in an Age of Globalization (Orbis Books, 2009) and If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice (The Liturgical Press, 2012), which won the College Theology Book of the Year Award in 2012 and the Catholic Press Association’s first place for books in theology in 2012. Her current research project explores racial identity formation, racism, and racial justice in Catholic institutions of higher education. She serves on the board of the Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies and is a member of St. Vicent De Paul parish in Germantown, where is also a member of POWER (Philadelphians Organizing to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild). POWER is an interfaith federation of 90-faith communities committed to making Philadelphia the city of “just love” (as well as “brotherly love and sisterly affection”) through a more just wage for workers, fair funding for public schools, immigration reform and decarceration.