Crossing the 50 year threshold is a milestone many of us dread but often mark with a trip or party. Half a century of life sounds like a long time. Not all that long ago, and still in parts of the world today getting to 50 was no small feat.
I write these reflections for the 26th of each month, and once a year I am given the opportunity to think about my brother who never made it to 50. Not by a longshot. Killed when he was just 22, today he would have turned 50 years old. We have no idea what he might look like at 50, what his career might have been or what family he might have had.
And for us, his family and friends, we have no idea what our lives might look like if he had not died. What decisions about living did his dying force us to make? How does the kindness shown us then, especially our parents, help us be kind to others today? Lots of things were set in motion that July night in 1989.
Today’s selection from Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians could not be more Passionist. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Paul continues to argue that our own understanding of wisdom is set aside by Jesus, the Wisdom of God. How can life come from death, healing through brokenness?
When my brother died, many asked “why.” It is a natural question, for sure. But it leads nowhere. The question seeks a rational answer where there is none. It was an irrational act by those who killed him. No, the question that I ask today – as a way to celebrate his 50 birthday – is “what now?” What wisdom does Christ offer me today that will help me know that life really can come through death?
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.