Our Collective Stories

Our Collective Stories March 31, 2024

Our Collective Stories

“Why is this night different from all other nights?”

This question is asked by the youngest person in the room on Passover in a Jewish home. This one question pulls together all of what Passover and Easter mean. It tells the history of a great family.

When we look around at our congregations, we see many faces of people who are there every week and others only at Christmas and Easter. Why does the church fill a bit more on holidays? Maybe because people want that feeling you got when they were younger and surrounded by people they loved. Maybe because people bring their larger families for that single day. At any rate, we, Catholics, as the “Body of Christ,” are also one large and extended family.

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It’s time for the Easter eggs to bedeck the lawns around the world.

A Little Story

I remember many, many Easters ago, my grandma and grandpa put together an Easter egg hunt for my two younger cousins and me on their acer and a half lawn. It looked like a giant green quilt with polka-dots of brightly colored eggs; some were plastic with little toys or candy inside, others were hard-boiled eggs dyed bright colors that would become the best egg salad I’ve ever tasted. I and my stairstep cousins—I was six, Jerry was five, and his little sister Linda was four—had the best time. We ran around, grabbing up as many eggs as possible, then dropped them off in our own little areas in the living room.

After picking up maybe 50 different kinds of eggs, we came in and sat at the 12-person table for Easter dinner. About halfway through dinner, we noticed a momma robin flying headlong into the picture window next to where we were eating. She would fly into the glass headfirst, bounce off, then fly into it again, squawking the entire time. Stunned, we all stopped eating and chatting to watch this crazy mamma bird bounce off the glass window.

That’s when we heard it. A small, almost imperceptible “Cheep… cheep, cheep…” came, not from outside the window but from one of the three piles of eggs in the living room. My four-year-old cousin Linda had picked up a little blue egg out of the snowball bush, which had hatched while we were eating dinner! The momma bird wanted her baby back!

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Spring is the eternal time of new birth in life and in souls.

Family Stories

That’s just one of my family’s stories. You and your families have stories as well. That is what it means to be a “family.” To have a shared story about shared experiences.

Throughout Lent, we hear stories of how God kept coming to us and tried to lead us back to Him. At Easter Vigil, we hear a few of our shared stories as the Body of Christ from the Bible. We hear how our Father made Adam and Eve with love and care—only to have them turn their backs on God and be separated from Him—possibly forever. We heard a scary story about how one of our great-great-great grandfathers (Abraham) was put to the test by our same Creator and how he passed that trial, becoming the father of generations. We hear the heart-racing story of our great-great-great cousins (the Israelites) crossing a sea while Moses—looking like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments— held up his staff, splitting the water so they could walk safely on dry land. And we hear a story from Isaiah telling of how no matter what we’ve done or how many times we’ve done it, we’ll always be taken in and cared for in our Father’s house.

But Is Tonight Different than Any Other Night?

Yes! Our faith’s story is vastly different from those of the Old Testament. Why? Because the impossible became possible! Jesus came back from death to life! God, our Father, our Creator, our Parent… Knowing we would all go through times of not listening, times of saying “no” when we should say “yes,” and times of saying “yes” when we should say “no…” knew we would flat out do the WRONG thing—just like Adam and Eve. He knew we would need to be bailed out and have our mistakes paid for at a very high price.

On Easter, we commemorate God’s “buy-back” plan that was accomplished early that first Easter morning. God sent Himself—Jesus— to bail us out, to pay for all our mistakes, and to wipe out all debts. But more than that. He came to be the perfect example to all that came after Him—showing us the right path to take—the way back to Him so that we could be a family again. Our Father, our Creator, our Parent… wanted to be reunited with His children—from Adam and Eve—to you and me… just like that momma robin with her chick in the living room.

So, yes, this night and season are different from all other nights and seasons. These are the stories of our family, of our ancestors, and of our children’s children. Just be careful of what kind of colored egg you pick up from under a bush!

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We all have family stories. Some sweet, some whimsical, some make to tug at our heartstrings. Our Faith family also has stories that tell us who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.
About Ben Bongers KM
Ben Bongers was an international operatic tenor and practicing sommelier for 30 years based in San Francisco, CA, and Europe. He has written monthly articles for trade magazines in wine and singing over a long and lustrous career. After becoming a semi-full-time caretaker for his parents, he earned an MA in Gerontology (the study of aging and care) and was asked to publish in an eldercare textbook in 2020. He has written several books, all published by EnRoute Books and Media. His first novel, THE SAINT NICHOLAS SOCIETY, has won many awards, and his other two, TRUE LOVE—12 Christmas Stories My True Love Gave to Me, and THE FARMER, THE MINER, THE ARTISAN (a children’s book) are both up for writing awards. Ben is a Knight in the Order of Malta and helped start an overnight homeless shelter at his San Francisco, CA parish. Today, he is a Permanent Diaconate Candidate in Kansas City, MO. You can read more about the author here.

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