First, it is good to see everybody back. Words to describe this past week cannot be found, neither are there words adequate to describe the pride and love I have for this community.
As we gather in prayer this evening, we also want to be sure to pray for the victims of this past week: the 4 killed, the many injured and those terrorized in Watertown.
We also need to remember in our prayers the victims of the fire in Texas and the earthquake in China.
We should also be offering prayers of thanksgiving for the first responders, race volunteers and others who jumped in to provide assistance and first aid to those injured on Monday, as well as for those who law enforcement who worked so hard to bring all of this to a close.
Finally, please pray for Chancellor Grossman. She is with family gathering with family at the bedside of her mother who is dying in a Florida hospital.
At our first Sunday Mass of the Fall semester I preached on two themes that the readings that day focused on: fear and community.
I stated that fear can be paralyzing, it prevents us from loving and prevent us from being human.
To overcome fear, I said, we need community. A community supports one another, helps us overcome fear and allows us to live in love and friendship with one another and with God.
The stronger our bond with one another, the stronger our bond with God. We become more connected and rooted to the One who is forever and unchanging.
That is why it is so important for us to be back on campus. We cannot and will not live in fear. We cannot and will not live in hate.
We are human; we are not God and at times we will become discouraged, frightened, etc. That is why we need to gather together. The phrases we have heard over the last week: unity, one, Boston Strong and more locally, Corsair strong, even the chants of USA are not just feel good words or phrases or attempts to ignore the reality. They are meant to become expressions of the reality that we are together in a bond of friendship and love.
Like the people in the first reading, we need to gather together to be encouraged as Paul and Barnabas spoke to encourage the community in Antioch. We need to be reminded that we are not alone, that good will always overcome evil, to remind us of who we are and to live according to that identity and not fear.
As I pulled onto campus this morning, one phrase jumped into my mind. “Victory is mine!” from Stewie Griffin. (Hope that isn’t too irreverent, I could have expressed Big Papi’s sentiment!)
But, my friends, that phrase is more appropriate than we may realize. We are in the season of Easter, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death (a violent death by the way). It was not just his victory, it is ours! Victory is ours!
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. An image that comes to mind may seem today irrelevant, soft, maybe wimpy.
This is the furthest from the truth. This Good Shepherd endured the Cross. He suffered unbelievable pain and suffering. He suffered injustice, abandonment and betrayal of friends. He suffered excruciating death.
But, we do not live in fear and despair because we are mindful that the story of our redemption and God’s promises did not end on a cross on a hillside outside Jerusalem. The story continued to new life, to greater glory, to victory over the worst the world could do to someone.
We have just lived a Good Friday moment, our story doesn’t end there. We celebrate the victory we share. Terror, violence and fear do not have control over us, we will not be defined as victims. We are Americans. We are Bostonians. We are Corsairs. We are Children of God.
Evil has once again failed. This week as we try to return to normal, let us do so together. Let us remember who we are and take great pride and consolation in that.
The victory is ours! Amen! Alleluia!