Offers food for thought
Readings: Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4, or First Corin; John 20:1-9
Easter Series - Part 1
The Resurrection is the definitive, without which our faith is in vain. “But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.” 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
The basis of our faith is the fact of the empty tomb and the extraordinary transformation of the disciples. Only the reality of the Resurrection can explain the history of the Church. As the Easter Sunday Gospel reading said, the Beloved Disciple saw the empty tomb and believed. Overcome with joy and enthusiasm, all the apostles and the disciples who were present in and around Jerusalem and Galilee at the time of the resurrection, experienced transformation from being fearful people to being afraid of nothing. The weak become strong, the foolish become the wise, the apostles who (it seems) became so frightened for their lives that they didn’t even go to Golgotha, suddenly become the most powerful agents of change the world has ever seen. The Church, founded upon the apostle who denied Jesus three times, grew and continued to spread after they died – even to this day. Only the abiding presence of the Lord can explain this, and only the resurrection explains the abiding presence of the Lord.
Baptism, as Paul tells us, is both a dying to one’s past and an entry into new life. When we receive baptism, we die in Christ. We go under the water to represent descending into death, but we also bind our fate with that of Christ’s and rise from the waters of death into new life. “How can we who died to sin yet live in it? Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires.” Romans 6:2-12 Every disciple who loves Jesus is one who sees — and believes with all his heart, all his mind, his soul… in a Risen Lord. Every disciple who loves God and Neighbor, lives free and does not go back to slavery. By the grace of God, ‘go and sin no more’.
(Preached homily for Easter Sunday focuses on this next paragraph. Listen on iTunes or SoundCloud)
Jesus and Paul lead us into an understanding of what is necessary for living the new life in Christ, by pointing us in reflection to the way in which bread is made, and the importance of the ‘active agent’, the yeast. In today’s second reading we are reminded how, at the Jewish Passover during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Jews were expected to throw out all the yeast, old leavened bread and to prepare new, unleavened bread. The fermentation caused by the leaven, the yeast, was, under these circumstances, understood to be a kind of corruption, as in the way described by Jesus when teaching the parable of the leaven of the Pharisees. Paul says, “Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:6
Paul continues, “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb…” 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 The unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, is ready for the leaving that comes from the Kingdom of Heaven, which Christ spoke of when he said, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” Matthew 13:33 In this parable Jesus likens the power of the kingdom of heaven as leaven to raise us up, to that of a huge amount of yeast! This is the great truth of living a ‘resurrection life’, the life of freedom found in Christ. Jesus will give new life to every single person who accepts him as Lord, who accepts him as the Way, Truth and Life. “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
Today, on Easter - Resurrection Sunday, we have a new hope. It is new because for some it is the first dawning of their conversion in Christ, for others it is a time to renew faith, renew commitment, renew our knowledge and understanding of God’s great love and mercy and to recommit ourselves to living the meaning of our Baptism and Confirmation; that all are called to holiness - "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48
As the Catechism states in paragraph 2015, the way of perfection passes by way of the Cross and because "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity," LG 40 § 2 it is always true to say that no disciple of Christ will escape discovering that there is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle” Timothy 2:4 in this new life. Responding to that universal call to holiness means that we become actively engaged in spiritual progress which involves our transformation and transfiguration. The mystic saints taught unceasingly about ascent of the path of spiritual union that gradually leads to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes.
God calls us all to this intimate union. This union, called "mystical" because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments - "the holy mysteries" - and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.