I was ransomed from some futile conduct on Saturday afternoon, but it took until Sunday morning for me to more fully appreciate the gift.
Weather-wise, it was a gorgeous weekend in the St. Louis area – the perfect opportunity to get out in the yard and prepare our landscaping beds for the growing season. Step one: put down a nice layer of mulch to control the undesirable weeds and sprouts.
But just as I was about to begin, I noticed that last year’s mulch was pretty much covered in khaki – thousands, if not tens-of-thousands, whirlybird seeds from the two maple trees in our backyard had settled on the ground, just waiting to germinate. And as I looked skyward, I noticed that at least as many more whirlybirds remained on the branches in anticipation of the next stiff breeze.
Not much point in putting down the fresh mulch today, I reasoned: Better to wait for much more of the whirlybird crop to descend…so that the new mulch might actually do some good in controlling unwanted maple seedlings in the weeks to come.
While it was frustrating not to make as much progress in the garden as I had intended, still I had to admire the sheer abundance of it all – how spectacularly fruitful the maple trees had become.
Then at Mass yesterday, my false start in the garden became something of an Easter moment for me. First, there was the observation we heard in the reading from the letter of Peter:
‘…you were ransomed from your futile conduct…with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.’
If I let that idea settle in my heart, it always takes my breath away – to realize the lengths to which Jesus would go in order to heal our brokenness, and restore the bond between heaven and earth.
Then, there was the Gospel reading from Luke: the story of the two frustrated disciples, making their way to Emmaus – unable to see much of anything good in the events of the preceding week, until the risen Jesus made himself known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Our celebrant pointed out that those two disciples had just participated in the first-ever Sunday Mass. He also mused about how many billions of times that same act – the breaking of the bread – had been repeated over the past two thousand years. How many billions of times Jesus has desired to make our hearts burn within us … and rescue us from our futile conduct with the blood of the Lamb.
Spectacular, indeed: Abundance beyond our imagining – a gift that kinda put a whole new spin on the whirlybird invasion in my backyard garden.
Our God is never outdone in generosity, it seems – and ever intent on filling us with joy in God’s presence. (cf. Psalm 16)
Let us pause now, to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.