I love this quote from Pope Francis because I agree that for some reason we have to be bold and be brave in order to be happy, it seems. Happiness is certainly a goal for all, I would hope, but for some reason we won't let ourselves really live it or enjoy it.
The Easter season is a joyful time for many reasons. I love the readings from the book of Acts where the apostles are really living the Gospel on their own for the first time. They are preaching and teaching and going out and putting their faith into ACTION. They are becoming the Body of Christ and it is beautiful to re-hear at this time of year.
I am currently reading a couple of different books (I'm always in the middle of at least three books at a time...) that have meditations on the Incarnation. The Incarnation refers to God becoming Flesh, so we often think of the event of the Incarnation at Christmas. But Ronald Rolheiser, the author of The Holy Longing which I am reading with a group of Catholic women, points out that they Body of Christ is also a way that God becomes flesh. God becomes present through us and our actions.
So hearing about the Body of Christ being formed by the apostles during this liturgical season and reading about the Incarnation has added to this joy of the season for me (the beautiful, finally warm weather also helps) and it makes me think about ways that I am actively bringing about the Incarnation. How is God becoming flesh in the world right now? In what ways?
Our American Christian culture has a weird relationship with "the flesh" and our bodies. We are super into fitness, but then abuse our bodies with chemically induced and preserved food and things that are bad for us. We want to look perfect but then hate our bodies if we don't. We use our bodies to experience pleasure, but then often feel guilty about it later.
I believe that God became incarnate to show us that our bodies are good and how to use our bodies. Namely, he used his body to help others. He walked and traveled to heal and serve others. This is how we can use our bodies and our Body of Christ to bring about God on earth as well.
Rolheiser also asserts that we have responsibility for making our prayers heard and "in fleshed" as well. Because as Christians we pray "through Christ" and one of the ways Christ becomes present is through us. We need to be His hands and feet in a real way. If we are praying for healing, we need to do things to bring about that healing ourselves. We need to reach out to others, seek help, help others. Rolheiser uses the example of the woman with the hemorrhage in the Gospels as an example. She wanted to be healed, so she reached out and touched the robes and garments of Christ. She pushed through the crowd surrounding Him and she was healed. What are some ways that we need to "touch the hem of Christ" for ourselves? For others?
In another book that I am reading by the author of "A Wrinkle in Time", Madeleine L'Engle on Faith and Art, L'Engle refers to art as a form of Incarnation, which I totally agree with. A reason that I believe art and music transcend through culture and time is that the artist is somehow channeling the divine and making God come to earth in a new way. Art and music have been ways that I have tapped into the spiritual when maybe my prayer wasn't being "heard." It is a way for us to take our prayer and the Incarnation into our own hands and create something in which He becomes incarnate.
I really like these meditations on the Incarnation in the Easter Season. We do think about Christ in the flesh during this season, but it's really through the apostles and the Church that He comes "in fleshed" at this time. I love this meditation on all the ways that Christ becomes "in fleshed" and hope to carry it through to Pentecost!