Welcome back to our seminarians. Here is the homily for Easter Monday
Easter Monday, 2011
Among the Saint Meinrad monastic traditions associated with Holy Week is the practice of presenting a live lamb to the abbot during the Easter Vigil. The lamb is brought forward by the novices. It is a moment of levity in the awesome rites of the vigil. From the standpoint of the assembly it is quite funny and sweet. For years I have wondered what it was like from the standpoint of the lamb. And so I present ---
A Lamb’s Tale
My name is Raymond. All of this business happened when I was about three months old. I can’t say that at the time I was a very good lamb, I wasn’t. I mean, I was good-looking enough but, you know, morally speaking, not so much. I fought a lot. I have a scar on my nose from a particularly nasty fight. It’s pretty bad, but you should have seen the hoofmarks on the other lamb. I didn’t do so well in school. I did great in frolicking but I was horrible at math. This was a cause of some consternation, after all what good is a lamb who can’t count sheep? I was definitely a mama’s lamb. That’s not to say that all of this is out of the ordinary. For goodness’ sake, I was only a kid. I’m sure I could have never predicted what would happen, what did happen because I swear everything I am about to tell you is the truth, even if the truth hasn’t always been died in the wool with me, so to speak. IT all started on an ordinary day. I had done a bit of nursing in the morning and around noon I was looking forward to a bit of frolicking with some buds of mine when the farmer showed up. He had a couple of other humans with him, two grown ones wearing some outfits like I had not seen before, long black robes. Weird I thought to myself, and might have just frolicked off but before I realize it, the farmer had me around the middle and was wrestling me into this wire pen. All of this is still such a blur that I can’t remember what happened next, but they put me into this kind of wheeled wagon and the two robed men got in front and off we went, faster than I thought it was possible to move. Over the walls of the wagon I could see pasture flashing by. This seemed to go on forever. Then we arrived at this barn, or some kind of barn made all of rock. They took my wire pen out with me in it and set me down in a kind of courtyard. They threw some straw, a container of water and some pellet like food into the pen. They were laughing. Then they just walked away. I felt so lonely there. There was no one around. It was so dark. I couldn’t see the moon or stars. O my what have I go myself into? Where’s my mama? Where are the other sheep? This was really looking Baaaad. I don’t know how long I stayed in that wire pen. It might have been two or three years, or just a couple of days. Lambs don’t have such a great sense of time and I was very bad at math. Finally, one night, the whole thing seemed to be unraveling. I caught a glimpse of a bunch of people. They started a fire. They were all dressed up in black and white robes. They seemed to dance around the fire. There was a big one. he was all dressed up in gold and had a kind of tower on his head. He also carried a shepherds crook, but it was like nothing I had ever seen before. They sang a bit and then someone brought out a big white pole, about as tall as a man. They seemed to think this was very important. They touched it and stuck things in it and then they set the top of it on fire. All of those folks then went into the barn, leaving me in the courtyard by myself again. Fortunately, they left the barn door open so I could hear what was happening. The first thing they did was get some fire off of that white pole and light little white poles they were all holding. Soon there was a warm and rosy glow coming from the barn. Next they began to tell stories. I could hear them from my pen. Over and over different ones got up to tell a story. I knew this is what shepherds sometimes did around fires. These stories were crazy though, about the beginnings of the world, about some people who walked through a pond, some old guy who tried to kill his son, crazy stuff, but somehow, quite compelling. This went on for a long time, and then I heard bells ringing, like cow bells but much bigger. Inside the barn they were singing really loud. Some crap was getting ready to go down, I could feel it and sure enough, in a flash two of the black robes were rattling my cage. “Come on girl, they said. What a pair these two were. Girl?! My name is Raymond for heaven’s sake. They tied my feet together. I was scared to death because I had seen this before. An old sheep I saw got tied up like this once. We never saw her again. They wrestled me into the ropes and then placed me in a basket. O no, I bleated, this is the end. They hauled me up the steps of the barn and then inside. It was beautiful. It smelled of flowers and plants. I love flowers and plants. It was glowing, at least what I could see of it, being tied up on my back and all. Well if this was the end, it was a great way to go. The two black robes brought me forward to the dude with the shepherd’s crook. From my position in the basket, he was upside down. He shook something in my face. It felt like drops of water. It was probably some drug I thought, something to make the end easier. The people around were laughing as I spoke and cried out. Then just as quickly as it started, it ended. In just a few minutes I was untied, and put back in my wire pen. Now I was interested. I listened closely to what they were doing in the barn. They sang. They recited words. The head guy spoke a lot. This went on for days, or hours, I’m very bad at math. Then they seemed to eat something. I heard it called the “Lamb of God’ I knew it wasn’t a real lamb, because, well, I was the only one around and they weren’t eating me. The Lamb of God seemed to have a name. It was Jesus. From what I could tell, they seemed to love this lamb, In fact, they loved him very much. Seemingly, from what I could make out, he had done something very important for them, this lamb named Jesus. That made me feel good, somehow important. Well, soon the adventure was over. The next morning, I went back to the farm, the same way I came. But I can tell you this, I wasn’t the same lamb. Having gone through all of that, I felt different, really different. I know no one here on the farm will believe my story. That’s why I am writing it down. (I know my hoofwriting is not so hot, sorry.) I know what happened. I know how my life, one crazy night was changed by this Lamb of God named Jesus. I know what happened and that I am a better lamb for it today. No one can take that away from me. Now I am determined. No matter what else happens in my life, I am going to find out more about this Jesus, the (how did it go?) the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Maybe one day I will be called to his supper. Who knows? I do know this. That night changed my life forever. That night was the making of me, Raymond, a simple lamb transformed by Jesus in a great mystery that I know I will never fully understand. I hope it was that way for the humans. I’m sure it was.