by Kathy Keary and Vicky Otto, Precious Blood Companions Co-directors
One of the best known works of Baroque music is “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from a cantata written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1723. It is a popular piece that may not be known by name, but many have heard it played at weddings by an organist or pianist. Recently it has had a resurgence of popularity through new vocal adaptations by several artists. In the lyrics, the beauty of Easter springs forth: “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring/ holy wisdom, love most bright/drawn by thee our souls aspiring/soar to uncreated light.”
Throughout the season of Easter, we frequently hear of the everlasting love of God that Bach alludes to and the disciples’ reaction to it. Whether it is was the disciples’ first reactions to the risen Lord at table in Emmaus or behind the locked doors of the Upper Room, they came to understand the depth of love he had for them. Saint Gaspar understood the depth of this love, writing: “May the love of God inflame our souls with holy zeal, and lead us to the perfection that is proper to us” (Letter #300).
Like the disciples after the Resurrection, our souls are also called to soar from our experience of the Risen Lord. Gaspar writes: “Oh how we are comforted in our souls by the mysteries of the Resurrection! Yes, please pray that I too may truly be risen with Jesus, that is to say, to a new life and to an eager pursuit of holiness” (Letter #2026). What does that soaring Bach wrote about mean to us as a Precious Blood community? It is easy to get discouraged and stay in a place of fear and sadness similar to what the disciples initially felt, hearing about what is happening in the world, our communities, our Church and even our families. Yet we are united on a journey Fr. Joe Nassal describes as, “an uncommon journey of truth and tenderness, compassion and care.”
The Vision Statement adopted by the xx General Assembly of our Community says: “As a courageous community of missionary disciples, the Cry of the Blood calls us to the edges of society to be ambassadors of Christ for reconciliation and hope as we minister with the people of God.” The Companion Vision statement Gather, Send calls Companions to: “share the gifts we have been given with the rest of the world.” Like the disciples in the Upper Room on Easter morning, we must also step past fear and sadness, becoming an Easter people who soar with the gift of love God has given us. It may be a word of peace shared with family members, or caring for the poor and marginalized in our society. It may be a call to be prophetic witnesses to the need for mercy and compassion in our broken world. No matter what our gifts are, when they are shared we give witness to the liberating love we experience at Easter.
We follow in the footsteps of the disciples who formed the early Christian communities, we follow those who have traveled this road before us and have shown us the way. We learn from their struggles and their joys, and through their intercession, they continue to lead us. As we celebrate Easter, may we become Easter people with souls inflamed with holy zeal as we soar to uncreated light.