Sunday, April 16, 2017

A New Dawn: Jesus Is Alive

Happy Easter! Felices Pascuas! Joyeuses Paques! Buona Pasqua! Frohe Ostern!

Fra Angelico's Resurrection
Easter symbolizes life. A popular Easter symbol is the egg.  Just as the chick breaks out of the egg at birth, so too we believe that, in the mystery of death, we will break out of this earthly “skin” so to speak, into a new life.  Because Jesus, once crucified and dead, is alive.  His resurrection is the pledge of our own.

Easter is about beginning again.  Who among us is content with who we are?  Who does not want to be more loving, more generous, more compassionate, more helpful?  Let this be the time to rediscover God's extraordinary grace transforming our ordinary, everyday lives into the likeness of God.

In the word of God, Peter proclaims the good news, all that God has done for us through Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus was crucified but was lifted up to his heavenly Father so that He could draw all of us to himself.  He is indeed, Peter shouts, a God of mercy and forgiveness. And that’s why Pope Francis emphasizes that the Church is a field hospital, here to heal wounds.

In the Gospel according to John, we hear the story of the resurrection of Jesus. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb, finds it empty, summons Peter and John.  The disciples discover that Jesus is alive.  He has passed through the mystery of death into a new, transfigured heavenly reality.  This heavenly reality is ours as well. That is the Easter message!

Jesus said: I live and because I live, we also live.  How?  Born in the flesh, we are reborn in the spirit. In the rite of baptism, the Spirit of God is poured out upon us, and a new life is ours.  The triune God lives within us and we live within the triune God.

As we grow in faith, the bishop anoints our forehead with oil in the sign of the cross—and in that gesture God confirms and pours out more fully the gifts of the Spirit so that we might show forth the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In this Eucharist, the living Christ truly presences himself to us sacramentally and mystically in the signs of bread and wine and becomes one with us in communion so we can continue his saving ministry.  And if we should stumble on our journey, the Living Christ lifts us up in the Rite of Penance where we celebrate God’s mercy.

Yes, through sacramental encounters with God, we experience the living Christ. In the exchange of marriage vows.  In the anointing of the sick.  The sacraments are signs of God’s care as we journey to our heavenly dwelling place.

Eternal life in relationship with God and one another: that is our ultimate purpose.

Easter is about getting our priorities straight.  How can we be more loving, more generous, more compassionate, more helpful?  Easter is a new dawn, a fresh start.

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