April 24, 2011
These three words…broken and redeemed… describe us at Easter: broken =a description of our shared humanity “after the Fall”, after sin became our partner, the nemesis of our happiness; redeemed = saved from destruction, saved from ourselves, bought at a price…by His obedience.
On this Easter Sunday, we are to rejoice in this great gift of God’s mercy: in His Son and through His Passion, we have been forgiven and have been adopted by our Abba, as sons and daughters. Easter announces this to all who have ears to hear. Our life of faith-life, accepting the gift given, allows us to rejoice. Yes, it is true… we are broken by sin, and it is futile to deny the bitterness and ugliness of that brokenness. But…we have been redeemed by God’s love and are being redeemed….as we live the life, day by day. So rejoice my friends…rejoice in His victory over the shadow-world. Rejoice in the light and love of our redeemed humanity…a restored image and likeness…that marks us as God’s own.
Next weekend, I will be away from the parish. I will be attending the Archdiocesan retreat and camp experience known as Toni’s Camp. Toni’s Camp is offered each year by the Disabilities Ministry of the Archdiocese, as a place of celebration for those in the Church living with any kind of disability. By God’s grace, I have been a part of this camp since 1990. Let me tell you how this happened. It’s a great story about discipleship and leadership…and parents.
Years ago, Toni and Joe Miralles moved from California to Georgia, settling in Sandy Springs. They became a part of the parish of St. Jude. They had a young daughter that was nearing the age for her 1st Holy Communion. She lived with an intellectual disability, and so would need some special assistance in sacramental preparation. So, Toni went to speak to her Pastor. He reported that they had no program that could assist her with her daughter. The Pastor helped Toni in contacting the folks in the Chancery. The Archbishop’s curia told Toni that they had no specific program to assist her and her “special needs” child.
What did this mom and dad do? Did Toni and Joe simply give up? Did they bolt to another Christian community? NO. They acted on the call of the Lord, wanting their daughter to be prepared for the gift of the Sacrament. Toni found some like minded disciples and they together began a program for “special needs children” in the Archdiocese. This program became the “special needs” program for Atlanta’s Catholics.
After ordination, I was assigned to St. Jude. This was 1989. By that date, Toni’s efforts were producing great fruits, and a camp for the disabled, called “Camp Re-creation”, was in full-swing. Toni would tell folks that as each new priest was assigned to St. Jude, she would go fishing. She would throw out a pastoral hook…ministry with and for the disabled of the Lord. She waited to see if any of the young priests would take the bait, and bite. I did, and the ministry with and for the disabled of God has been a blessing to me since then.
When Toni died, the camp was renamed Toni’s Camp…to honor this extraordinary disciple of the Lord. Please know this: For as long as I am with you, I hope to give all of my heart to Saint Brigid; but on this one weekend out of the year, I’ll be away…my heart being hooked by a saint of God. I hope and pray that some of you may join me in this extraordinary ministry….at camp…and here at Saint Brigid.
Easter… is ALL about the victory…His victory, over sin and death…and our new life in Him…as a family, redeemed.
Ad maiorem Dei gloriam