You can’t go home again, but you can be born again. WHAT?! YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN, a novel by Thomas Wolfe, tells the story of a man going back to his hometown, who discovers that people are jealous of his success. Of all the people he thought would be happy for him, some of those he grew up with do not share his joy. In one way or another, when we go back to our home area, our native place, there is at least a sense of wistfulness or melancholy as we think of what was, and grieve for those who are no longer with us.
But YOU CAN BE BORN AGAIN. From the pages of the Chicago Tribune last week came a great Easter story. April Dorsey, who had suffered from a severe crack cocaine addiction, was in the beginning stages of recovery. At St. Martin de Porres recovery center in the city, she had been clean and sober for a month. She had gotten involved with the program’s Harmony, Hope and Healing choir, which goes around the area and provides music to schools and nursing homes a few times a month. Dorsey, 50, told the reporter: "I feel like a newborn baby!" and "Everything is different to me now." She has been born again, by the power of Jesus’ Resurrection. Nicodemus, puzzled, asked Jesus in today’s gospel: "How can this happen?" He wanted the rational, "scientific" proof that so dominates us in the West. Jesus tells him "we know of what we speak and we testify to what we have seen." In the Easter season God’s people testify in a special way to God’s way of doing things, to God’s plan…in our personal lives, the lives of our church communities and in the world.
God’s plan is outlined for us in the first reading from Acts: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own…." Being of one heart and mind in the family of the church or one’s individual family doesn’t mean authoritarianism. Instead, the goodness that flows from the resurrection impels us to constantly look for ways of being and doing that respect and nourish all. We grow in desiring God’s will to be done in all situations, great and small. This demanding yet fulfilling Christian idealism frees us from the grave! The narrow confines of self, of doing it my way, yield to "us", "God’s way" and the common good.
Eastertime, the goodness of fresh spring growth and warming sun, touches even old bones and hearts and helps us to say, like April Dorsey: "I feel like a newborn baby!"
Fr. Bob Bovenzi, C.P. is stationed in Houston, Texas.