“The one who has hope lives differently.”
-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Welcome, dear friend! Whether you have deliberately joined Live Differently fresh out of ECHO or have stumbled across this virtual (though very real) community by accident, we still say to you, “Welcome! It is good that we are here.”
And indeed, it is good that we are here. In the Gospel of Matthew (17:1-8), we read that when Elijah and Moses appeared on the mountaintop with Christ, who was newly transfigured and “shining like the sun,” Peter eagerly declared to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents…” But, before such a noble, yet somewhat misguided, deed could be accomplished, a voice bellowed from the clouds, Peter, James and John fell prostrate, and Jesus appeared normal once more, beckoning his Apostles by saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” Then, they left the mountaintop together.
“Wait a second,” you might be thinking to yourself. “What does the Transfiguration have to do with me right now? I just got back from ECHO, and there were certainly no mountaintops.”
Well, perhaps not. But perhaps, like Peter, you also found yourself encountering the shining light of God’s love and the glistening jewel of His Good News in the teachings of the Theology of the Body during your ECHO experience. Maybe you finally formed a group of friends who are committed to following Christ, no matter what storms may arise as a result of such a choice. And perhaps you, too, found yourself saying, “Life is so real here at ECHO. I never want to leave!” Then, out of nowhere, a voice said at the end of mass, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” you were wrenched from your new friends, and suddenly the only lights you saw were the brake lights of the car in front of you as you made your way down the “mountain” back home. Dazed, you might have thought, “What now? It was so good when I was there, but now I am here, in the ‘real world,’ and things are different.”
In this doubt and anxiety, friend, is where the experience of Peter, James, and John during and after the Transfiguration can teach us something worth learning. They too encountered the bright light of the Lord in a life-altering way and were straightaway brought down the mountain back to “reality.” Yet, before re-entering the “real world,” how did Jesus call them forth? Not by saying, “Well, I hope you enjoyed your experience, but now it’s over and cannot be relived. We might as well head down the mountain.” No! He took them by the hand and gently said, “Rise, and do not be afraid. While this experience on the mountain has come to a close, I am still here and will be with you until the end of the age.”
Friend, we are Peter, James, and John, and Christ is saying this to us now. And what did the Apostles do after the Resurrection? They proclaimed to the whole world their experiences with Christ, building communities of faith, hope, and love wherever they journeyed. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we too are called to share with the world what we have been given during ECHO. Christ is gently sending you, sending us all, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid. Go in peace to love and serve.” Do you hear His voice?
So indeed, it is good that we are here, in this virtual space, after returning from ECHO. Here, we can encourage and be encouraged; we can share and listen to testimonies and new ideas; we can display our art and embrace with love our stumbling culture. Most importantly, we can help one another see the “real world” as it truly is, with new eyes that see Christ transfigured wherever they roam.
Here, friend, is where ECHO is no longer an end but a beginning. Welcome aboard!