A Catholic Monthly Magazine

When Spring Breaks Through

By Fr Kevin Bates SM

Spring is arriving with its clear air, excited birdsong, warmer breezes and blossoms colouring our surroundings. The world around us pulses with new life. Our bodies respond to this newfound energy as muscles relax and passions we thought long-buried surface once again. The world within and around us feels somehow newly alive. Spring fashions brighten footpaths that were only recently cloaked in heavy coats and sensible hats.

It really is a beautiful season and feels a bit like resurrection all over again. It refreshes our longing that life itself is meant to be beautiful, big-hearted and full of the sort of joy embodied in the song of the birds as they notice that winter is gone.

While all this new life is being celebrated, remembered and re-claimed, woven through each day, each news cycle, is the relentless suffering of our mother the earth and the suffering of so much of our human family.

As we call to mind those lured into many forms of modern-day slavery, in industry, agriculture, the sex trade, our spring-song stops short. The ongoing suffering of victims of sexual abuse, most often in families and sadly too often in our church among other institutions, continues silently and aloud.

The despair that leads young lives to a premature end too frequently stirs our sadness and bewilderment. The emptiness that lures so many, especially young people, to search for the next ‘high’ through the misuse of drugs, alcohol, sex or addictive and ultimately mindless electronic games, leaves us grasping for hope and puzzling over the sad, fragile state of our human family.

Much of our entertainment is infected by a cynicism about the human condition and a sad surrender to human evil. It’s as if corruption, addiction and our noisy, restless desires are all that’s left to us.

In the middle of all this, with quiet determination, spring breaks through!

In the middle of all that weighs on us and of all that requires our attention and healing touch, it’s fitting that without apology or hesitation, we embrace the occasions of joy and new life with glad hearts. We need the nourishment they provide in order to be present lovingly in our world. We need the hope that they generate to move forward, still searching out the path of love, justice and peace that is our calling.

Quietly present through everything, is the Spirit of the Risen Jesus who knows only too well the depth of our desperation and suffering, and whose graced presence is more than enough to cope with our darkest selves.

So much of our lost, aimless addictive behaviour speaks of lives whose centre has gone missing. In Jesus we find that missing centre which anchors all our endeavours.

In the song of Jesus, we hear the sounds of spring. This is no trivial shallow song cased in a sort of cosmetic niceness. This song springs from the very depths of human and cosmic suffering and is a joyful proclamation that love indeed is not only possible, but is present here and now, breaking through all that weighs on us and seeks to bring us down.

Because of Jesus’ song, we celebrate with glad hearts, without hesitation, with confidence and without shame, for we know that it is this song alone that will be the healing of our broken, suffering world.

Let’s embrace this springtime whole-heartedly, and celebrate our joyful moments with untarnished thankfulness. We then embrace the suffering world with a certain joy, knowing God’s longing, that all creation might share in the hope that spring announces, and that we can play our part in making real this divine longing.  

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