A few weeks ago, there was a ranking of the Ten Best and Ten Worst Television Series Finales according to a group of television critics.  It was around the time where fans of the show Game of Thrones were excited (or angered) with the conclusion to that series.  (I have to confess, I’ve not seen an episode yet, so I was out of the loop on all that discussion… I was more interested in how they were ending The Big Bang Theory, but I digress).  With all that interest in the finale to Game of Thrones though, these television critics talked about how well (or poorly) other popular shows ended their run

HAPPY EASTER!!! This is my homily for June 2, 2019 – SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER . The readings for today’s Mass can be found HERE Thanks as always for reading; sharing this blog on your social media sites; and your feedback and comments. I appreciate it. Have a good week – God Bless – Fr Jim. AUDIO Also you can get the audios of the homilies from iTunes as a Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fr-jim-cherns-homilies/id1440618142?mt=2

In terms of the “best series finales”, some of the ones mentioned were The Mary Tyler Moore Show (I was three at the time, so I don’t really remember much of that).  The last episode of the bar-themed show Cheers was listed.  That one I remember well – where Sam Malone, the main character and former cast member Diane Chambers returns to resolve the series-long theme – will Sam and Diane end up getting married? – while the regulars in the bar continued their usual talk was a nice balance of tying up loose ends.  It ended simply as Sam closes the bar for the night and says “Sorry we’re closed”. This list named the finale of MASH as the “best.” It was one of the most-watched TV shows in history. After 11 seasons following these characters set in an Army hospital during the Korean War, we got to see the end of that conflict and watch main character Hawkeye get to go home, which the reporter said was so emotional “there wasn’t a dry eye in the country.” (I don’t remember crying…but if the newspaper says so)

In terms of the Worst endings – there were a lot of shows that I wasn’t really familiar with or remembered watching – X-files was on the worst list, as well as the last episodes of Little House on the Prairie; St. Elsewhere; Roseanne… But I imagine a lot of people would agree with their selection of two series finales making it on the worst list. Seinfeld was listed the third-worst when the four main characters ended up in jail for not stopping a mugging was kind of far-fetched (they were convicted of “doing nothing” which was a play on the theme of the show…)  But the choice for worst series endings ever was The Sopranos, where the author described it as  “one of the single most frustrating endings in history… the final scene of this brilliant, much revered show left viewers thinking their cable had gone out. While main character Tony Soprano and family sat in a NJ diner and … what? Got rubbed out? Ate pie? We’ll never know because creator David Chase left the cut-to black ending intentionally vague to make the point that if you chose a Tony Soprano lifestyle, uncertainty reigns.” Most fans didn’t care for Chase’s philosophical point…and almost 15 years later are still ticked that they don’t know what happened.

Coming to an end… When you think about it, for the writers of these shows it’s a tricky thing to try to do. Here they have created characters that become beloved. But after years and years of airings, people became invested in these characters, these fictitious stories. So how do they tie up things and storylines in a manner that is going to make people satisfied? What would make this a memorable conclusion becomes quite a challenge.

This last, seventh Sunday of Easter, we find ourselves recalling the end of one aspect of Jesus’ life as he has Ascended into Heaven to enter into the inner life of God. So how does the Church bring this season of Easter to a close? What’s the “finale”?

Interestingly it’s a “flashback” episode! It’s Jesus at the Last Supper offering a prayer. Considering all the dramatic moments of Christ’s life – and those still to come as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church in the Feast of Pentecost next week, on the surface it might seem an anti-climactic way to conclude this season. (Maybe that’s one reason some Churches have moved the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord to this Sunday?)

Here we recall Jesus’ words before His trial, His Passion and Death. But if we listen to what Jesus is saying, it makes perfect sense. In this prayer, Jesus is beautifully speaking to His Father, Our Father. And in these words, we can hear the depth of love that is contained in the mind and heart of our Trinitarian God that links the Father, Son and Spirit together.
And what is at the core, the heart of God?
Every one of us.

The essential message, the “ending and beginning” of the Gospel, of all the scriptures themselves comes back to this fundamental point that God has this deep, personal, and unique love for every human person. That He is intimately caring for, concerned about each one of us.

Yes, Jesus’ words coming from before the worst would happen to Him; and recalled in light of His greatest triumph speak of this incredible focused love for all of us. Jesus never loses sight of this love in the face of the horror he will face on Good Friday. He never doubts that Love. He never forgets that Love. It is this personal love that enables him to face evil in the eye, carry that cross, suffer an apparently devastating defeat and triumph in a way that to this day remains mind-blowing even to his most faithful followers.

At the same time, this prayer of Jesus reveals the key for us to experience this love personally, profoundly ourselves. The “ending”to this Easter Season leaves us with the promise that if we live a life of unity ourselves – a life rooted in charity of heart and mind; a life free of sin – we can experience that intimate, deep love of God ourselves. We will enter into this personal communion with God that Jesus wants us to experience.
We will be able to face our own Good Fridays with an awareness of His presence.
We will be able to carry and suffer under our own crosses knowing a triumph we cannot imagine awaits us.
As Easter comes to a close, can you and I think of a better “finale?” Or rather, can we think of any better way for us to “begin?”