I hope and pray your Lenten journey was fruitful and your Easter celebration is one of even greater appreciation for the love of God who sent his only Son into the world and for Jesus Christ who coming into the world took on our human condition, walked among us, preached and healed, laid down his life on the cross and rose from the dead for our salvation.
Salvation, what a precious gift! Eternal life, what a precious hope for those of us who believe in the Risen Christ!
I do not know about you, but my Lenten journey was full of failures, which brought me to recognize once again my own sinfulness and weaknesses, it was an invitation to embrace my own humanity and my need for a savior.
As the time grew near for Jesus to be handed over, he told the people: “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” (John 8: 23-24)
Easter is a time to celebrate our faith in the Risen Jesus — he has saved us from our sins. If we do not believe in Jesus, we cannot make it to heaven on our own. Jesus told his disciples: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14: 6)
Our faith in Christ — our life in the Risen Christ carries consequences for us, as Saint Paul says:
“Since you have been raised up to new life in Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1)
Through the church, through the sacraments of the church, Christ shares his life with us. That’s right, in baptism we die to self and rise with Christ to a new life. The Easter Vigil celebration is rich with the many symbols and sacraments of the new life Christ shares with us through the church. All the other sacraments continually renew the life of Christ in us, and strengthen us in our life in Christ.
I still believe that once people understand this basic truth and mystery of how Christ longs to share his life with us through his Word and the sacraments, our parishes would be packed every Sunday. Do children look for Easter Eggs and all the chocolate they can find out of a sense of ‘obligation’ or do they do so because of the joy of the search and discovery — treasuring the enjoyment of what is found? How much more for the members of the Catholic Church who come to receive the sacraments with full knowledge of what is being offered, not just out of obligation, but treasuring their next encounter with the Risen Christ.
The hollow, chocolate bunnies associated with Easter are much like many other things of this world; while sweet and delicious, once the sugar high wears off, we are left feeling hollow, only to go looking for that next lift.
The Risen Christ on the other hand gives us the true bread, come down from heaven. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
Hopefully you experienced the joy of celebrating the Resurrection with your parish and faith family. If not, or even if you did, please, continue to join us every Sunday! Nothing compares to the life that is ours in Christ. If his desire to share this new life with us was so strong that he was willing to lay down his own life, it is surely a treasure worth receiving!
May our joy in the Risen Christ lead us to live and proclaim as did Saint Paul: “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” (Galatians 2: 20)