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Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

What the Resurrection of Christ Means for Our Lives

In Uncategorized on 2013/04/16 at 6:30 PM

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good day!

 Today I would like to reflect on its meaning for salvation. What does the Resurrection mean for our lives? And why, without it, is our faith in vain? Our faith is based on the death and resurrection of Christ, just like a house built on foundations: if they give in, the whole house collapses.

On the Cross, Jesus offered himself taking sins upon himself our and going down into the abyss of death, and in the Resurrection he defeats them, he removes them and opens up to us the path to be reborn to a new life. St. Peter expresses it briefly at the beginning of his First Letter, as we have heard: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”(1:3-4).

The Apostle tells us that the Resurrection of Jesus is something new: we are freed from the slavery of sin and become children of God, that we are born to a new life. When does this happen to us? In the Sacrament of Baptism. In ancient times, it was normally received through immersion. Those to be baptized immersed themselves in the large pool within the Baptistery, leaving their clothes, and the bishop or the priest would pour water over their head three times, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then the baptized would emerge from the pool and put on a new vestment, a white one: they were born to a new life, immersing themselves in the death and resurrection of Christ. They had become children of God. I

In the Letter to the Romans Saint Paul writes: you ” For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father! ‘”(Rom. 8:15). It is the Holy Spirit that we received in baptism that teaches us, leads us to say to God, “Father.” Or rather, Abba Father. This is our God, He is a father to us.

The Holy Spirit produces in us this new status as children of God, and this is the greatest gift we receive from the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. And God treats us as His children, He understands us, forgives us, embraces us, loves us even when we make mistakes . In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah said that even though a mother may forget her child, God never, ever forgets us (cf. 49:15). And this is a beautiful thing, beautiful!

However, this filial relationship with God is not like a treasure to be kept in a corner of our lives. It must grow, it must be nourished every day by hearing the Word of God, prayer, participation in the sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist and charity. We can live as children! We can live as children! And this is our dignity. So let us behave as true children! This means that each day we must let Christ transform us and make us like Him; it means trying to live as Christians, trying to follow him, even if we see our limitations and our weaknesses.

The temptation to put God to one side, to put ourselves at the center is ever-present and the experience of sin wounds our Christian life, our being children of God. This is why we must have the courage of faith, we must resist being led to the mentality that tells us: “There is no need for God, He is not that important for you”. It is the exact opposite: only by behaving as children of God, without being discouraged by our falls, can we feel loved by Him, our life will be new, inspired by serenity and joy. God is our strength! God is our hope!

Dear brothers and sisters, we must first must firmly have this hope and we must be visible, clear, brilliant signs of hope in world. The Risen Lord is the hope that never fails, that does not disappoint (cf. Rom 5:5). God’s hope never disappoints!. How many times in our life do our hopes vanish, how many times do the expectations that we carry in our heart not come true! The hope of Christians is strong, safe and sound in this land, where God has called us to walk, and is open to eternity, because it is founded on God, who is always faithful.

We should never forget this; God is always faithful! God is always faithful! Be risen with Christ through Baptism, with the gift of faith, to an imperishable inheritance, leads us to increasingly search for the things of God, to think of Him more, to pray more. Christianity is not simply a matter of following commandments; it is about living a new life, being in Christ, thinking and acting like Christ, and being transformed by the love of Christ, it is allowing Him take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, to free them from the darkness of evil and sin.

Dear brothers and sisters, to those who ask us our reasons for the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15), let us point to the Risen Christ. Let us point to Him with the proclamation of the Word, but especially with our resurrected life. Let us show the joy of being children of God, the freedom he gives us to live in Christ, who is true freedom, freedom from the slavery of evil, sin and death! In looking to our heavenly home, we will also have a new light and strength in our commitment and in our daily efforts. It is a precious service that we give to our world, which is often no longer able to lift its gaze upwards, it no longer seems able to lift its gaze towards God.

VIS

Christ Has Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

In Uncategorized on 2013/03/31 at 9:46 AM

“Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! Happy Easter!”

“What a joy it is to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons… Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin or of evil! Love has triumphed! Mercy has been victorious! God’s mercy always triumphs!”

“We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. God’s love can do this.”

“This same love out of which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell—to the abyss of separation from God—this same merciful love has flooded Jesus’ dead body with light and transfigured it; has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to an earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and He entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.”

“This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from the slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory, the living person.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all time and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passing from the slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when are lacking love for God and neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).”

“So this is the invitation that I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy! Let us be loved by Jesus! Let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.”

“And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.”

“Peace for the Middle East, in particular between Israelis and Palestinians who struggle to find the road of agreement: that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq: that every act of violence may end. And above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”

“Peace for Africa, still the scene of bloody conflicts. In Mali: may unity and stability be restored. In Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Central African Republic where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.”

“Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.”

“Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century. Human trafficking is precisely the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over of the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for his mercy endures for ever. Let Israel say: “His mercy endures forever”.’ (Ps 118:1-2).”

“Dear brothers and sisters who have come from all over the world to this Square, the heart of Christianity and to all of you joining us via the media, I repeat my wishes for a happy Easter! Bring to your families and your nations the message of joy, of hope, and of peace that every year, on this day, is powerfully renewed. May the Risen Lord, who defeated sin and death, sustain us all especially the weakest and those most in need. Thank you for your presence and the witness of your faith. A thought and special thanks for the gift of these beautiful flowers that come from the Netherlands. I affectionately repeat to all of you: May the Risen Christ guide all of you and all of humanity on the paths of justice, love, and peace!”

Then, in Latin, Pope Francis imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

VIS 130331

The Semantics of Easter

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/04/07 at 9:11 AM

Beginning in the 1960’s, a concerted effort was launched by influential clergy in the Vatican and their American allies to make radical changes in the Church. According to some, the changes have not enhanced the Church or the religious experience of the Catholic people.

The  most obvious was the complete overhaul of the Mass under the guidance of Archbishop Bugnini who worked in the Vatican. It was later discovered that he had been a secret member of the Masons, a group not well-disposed toward the Church. Bugnini’s goal, in his own words, was the make the Mass more acceptable to Protestants which is odd because Protestants do not even believe in the Mass in any form. The new Mass has been a subject of controversy ever since.

Another source of negative change were the  new Bible translations which too often actually altered the meaning of the original texts. One notable example concerns what used to be a familiar verse:”What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers (allows) the loss of his SOUL.” This is a warning from Christ Himself that the salvation of the soul is one’s most important need and goal. The contemporary wording is: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his LIFE?” Major difference. The idea that to become very wealthy and then die has no spiritual implications at all. To use a slang term…it’s a “tough break”, but little else. After all, everyone will “lose his life” at some time. The tragedy is not dying: it not being ready to die spiritually.

Another change for the worse is in the verse “My Father’s house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” The new reading is “My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a place of business”. In the time of Christ, the Jews had to convert their Roman coins to Jewish coins for Temple use. Money-changing was, in itself, legitimate. However, the men were gouging the  Temple attendees by giving far less vale in Jewish money than for the Roman money they took in. Christ was not objecting to the business aspects, but to the almost extortionary exchange rates over which the people had no control.

An even more serious change occurs in the Easter narrative. It concerns to change from the active to the passive voice (Normally translations would not change the voice of verbs.) The active voice in grammar means that the subject of the sentence is doing something himself. Ex. The man opened he door. The passive voice means that the subject is being acted upon by someone/something else. The door was opened by the man. The door did not open itself. In my younger years, the Easter narrative always read: “Christ rose from the dead.”, “He is risen: which are in the active voice and means that Christ brought Himself back to life.

Nowadays the words are in the passive voice. Christ was raised from the dead.”God raised Him up.” The problem is that some might conclude that Christ did not raise Himself and had to be resurrected by some other power like Lazarus and widow’s son were raised by Christ.

If we begin to doubt the reality of the Resurrection, it will damage our faith and lead to doubt about other aspects of doctrine, especially ones we may not be much in favor of. Thus, it is very important that we understand that Christ as God brought Himself back to life. He did not need any help.

Is all this re-translation an effort to deny or denigrate the Person of Christ. I don’t know, but the history of the Church in U.S. Certainly suggests I might be so. If the faith of a Catholic is weakened or lost, there is no alternative. In the words of St. Peter, “Where shall we go, Lord, you have the words of eternal life.”

The Resurrection of Christ is the singular event in the history of mankind and of the Church. No has done it before or since. The Resurrection is a truly a historical event as any historical event you can name. It really happened and can be proved.

St. Paul tells us that if Christ did not rise from the dead, we are wasting our time with Christianity because, without the Resurrection, Christ is just another teacher of doctrine and morals, but no more significant than any other teacher.

In the Easter season, the Church often speaks of the “joy of Easter”. This joy is not a physical or emotional joy as it was at the first Easter. It is the happiness that arises in the mind because we KNOW that Christ rose from the dead as He said He would. It is the joy of confirmation that all that He said is true. It is the satisfaction of certitude that we are followers of the true God and our faith is not misplaced. It is the assurance that our efforts to lead a moral life amid a grossly immoral culture are not in vain.  It is the hope that the blessed eternity that Christ promised to those who are faithful will actually come to pas in due course.It is the consolation of knowing that our God who took on human flesh is still alive and always available to us.

Live accordingly.

“Resurrexit sicut dixit.”

“He has risen as He said.”

Alleluia!

Listen to the Little Child

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/05/04 at 7:17 AM

Years ago I was told an inspirational incident: A teacher had asked the children to bring back from Easter celebrations something that made Easter meaningful to them.  Easter Monday the children enjoyed showing each other what they had brought.  They all made fun of one little fellow that they considered “slow” or “out of it” because all he brought was an egg shell.   However, that was only until the teacher asked the little boy its meaning. With the simplicity our Lord recommends, the child said joyfully: “Well, the shell is empty because He IS risen.”  The classroom was filled with stunned silence and admiration.

Resurrection of Jesus

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/25 at 1:39 PM

    The most concise definition/explanation of the Resurrection can be found in the Glossary  of Joseph Ratzinger’s (Pope Benedict XVI) JESUS OF NAZARETH, Part Two) Ignatius Press

“The entrance by Jesus, following his death on the Cross, into an entirely new form of life that lies beyond the order of natural biological generation, resuscitation, and  dying and that includes a transformed bodily dimension of existence, possessing physical and spiritual aspect. (Mt. 22:30; 1 Cor. 15:42-44, 50-54; Luke 24:39; Jn 20:24:24-27)

“The Resurrection is the Father’s vindication of Jesus’ divine sonship and validation of the believer’s faith in Jesus’ redemption of sinful humanity.”  (Acts 2:24; Rom.1:4; 1 Cor. 15: 14, 17)

“It is also the pledge of  ‘first fruits’ of a general resurrection, the beginning of a new kind of humanity to be realized in the age to come.”  (1 Cor 15:23)

“The Resurrection of Jesus in not the mere passing of a spirit into the next life or a miraculous resuscitation to mortal existence, as with Lazarus.  It is an entirely new mode of bodily existence.”

For a spiritual and scholarly expansion, see chapter 9, Jesus’ Resurrection from the Dead.

“He has triumphed over death”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2011/04/25 at 1:32 PM
Easter Octave – Monday: “He has triumphed over death”.
The risen Christ, Christ in glory, has divested himself of the things of this earth, so that we men, his brothers, should ask ourselves what things we need to get rid of. (The Forge, 526)

“Christ is alive.” This is the great truth which fills our faith with meaning. Jesus, who died on the cross, has risen. He has triumphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness. “Do not be terrified” was how the angels greeted the women who came to the tomb. “Do not be terrified. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here.” “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Easter is a time of joy — a joy not confined to this period of the liturgical year, but to be found really and fully in the Christian’s heart. For Christ is alive. He is not someone who has gone, someone who existed for a time and then passed on, leaving us a wonderful example and a great memory.

No, Christ is alive. Jesus is the Emmanuel: God with us. His resurrection shows us that God does not abandon his own. He promised he would not: “Can a woman forget her baby that is still unweaned, pity no longer the son she bore in her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” And he has kept his promise. His delight is still to be with the sons of men.
(Christ is passing by, 102)

ΧΡΙΣΤΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΙ (CHRIST IS RISEN)

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/23 at 9:39 PM

ΑΛΙΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΙ (HE IS RISEN INDEED)  Greek being the cultural language of Rome until its fall, this is the greeting and response the Christians exchanged at Eastertime.  It is still the greeting used by the Greek Orthodox.  Say that to any Greek restaurant owner,  and you will bring joy to him.  



The Risen One, the New Temple

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/12 at 5:34 PM

The Apostle John records a three word powerful sentence concluding the Prologue:  He explains Him. John 1:18.  He (Christ) explains Him (the Father).

In this theological Gospel, John reveals the person of Jesus intimately, perceiving His inner most thoughts and emotions. If you want  to understand the true meaning of life, if you seek eternal life, if you long to know God, you will find all those desires fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in all the Gospels.

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to enlighten the apostles so that they recorded, with divine authority, God’s truth.  Imagine the power that inspired a teenage fisherman to later write: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1: 1. And, later in an epistle:  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” I John 1:1.

Each Gospel writer had a goal and specific audience in mind, which  guided him to select certain miracles or signs to point to the different aspects of eternal truth. The Synoptic Gospel were recorded much earlier than John’s Gospel.  Matthew, Mark and Luke simply recorded what Jesus did and what He said. It is the beloved disciple, John, who  gives a special emphasis on what Jesus meant. All four portrait painters of Jesus had one goal, expressed by John: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”  John 20:31

Jesus is divine; He is also human.  He is now in heaven in His human resurrected body which although invisible to us, is nonetheless is as real as you are. Peter knew what was what when he said to our Lord: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6: 66-69. The doubting disciple,  Thomas who as a Jew was strictly monotheistic, recognized the divinity of Christ when he exclaimed in faith: “my Lord and my God.”  John 20:28.

Christ is a living person, who has come to make knowledge become light and life in you.  Trust Him and as you read the Gospels, expect Him to show you He can help you now.  Seek to find  in the heart of Jesus, the meaning  of His words and miracles. Look  into your own heart.  Expect Him to enable you to see whatever changes you can make in your life for your own good.

In his recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two, Pope Benedict XVI states: “God revealed his ‘name’ to Moses.  That ‘name’ was more than a word.  It meant that God allowed himself to be invoked, that he had entered into communion with Israel….God’s name means: God present among men.”

“The revelation of the name is a new mode of God’s presence among men, a radically new way in which god make his home with them.  In Jesus, God gives himself entirely into the world of mankind: whoever sees Jesus sees the Father. (cf.Jn 14:9)”

“In him God is truly ‘God-with-us’….As the Risen One, he comes once more, in order to make all people into his body, the new Temple.”

Another Easter!

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2011/04/11 at 6:01 PM

It’s a rare Catholic church that does not talk about the significance of Christmas on Christmas day and the significance of the Resurrection on Easter.  The reason is that both these feasts have momentous implication in the Christian religion. Easter is the paramount celebration of the Christian Church. Good Friday would have been forever in dispute if there had been no Easter.

St. Paul tells us that without the Resurrection, our faith and belief is useless because it would amount to little more than opinion. What would we have faith in? A corpse? A memory? A shaky hope? But, the Resurrection of Christ is God’s seal of approval on Christ and His Church.

No other religious founder is still alive. Some have known burial places; some do not. Some, like Ellen Gould White, founder of the Seventh Day Adventists, promised her followers that she would rise from the dead. They are still waiting. No religion even claims a founder who came back from the dead. Even Islam, the source of much religious absurdity, does not claim that Mohammed is still alive.

The Resurrection is not some myth or fable or tall story. It is a historical fact like any other authenticated fact of history. Christians should not think of the Resurrection as some pious sectarian tale, but a fact of history attested to by 500 witnesses, some of whom actually conversed with the risen Christ. Courts accept the testimony of two reliable witnesses. What of five hundred? Many of these were still living when Gospels and Epistles were written.

If Christ had not risen from the dead as He prophesied, His mission on earth would have been suspect and subject to two millennia of bickering, arguing, doubt, etc.  By rising from the grave by His own divine power, He affirmed Himself as God and Savior, making His teaching of divine origin and, therefore, not subject to change by human or group of humans.

Thus the Resurrection, by itself, affirms the truth of Christianity. All other religions, ‘ipso facto’, can be labeled ‘false’. Ah, yes, you say; what about the ‘sincere’ members of other religions. They may be sincere, but they are sincerely wrong. Sincerity does not affect truth. Truth does not arise in our minds, but in the real world.

After Christ died on the Cross, He could have brought Himself back to life and simply vanished from the tomb. Salvation would still be possible for man.Prayer would be possible.Liturgies would be possible.What would not be possible would freedom from doubt and anxiety, and centuries of skepticism. Humans want to have certitude about vitally important matters, and the Resurrection is a divine gift of certitude  about Christ and His Church. It is another example of divine love (commitment) for the benefit of us humans.

Man has conquered the heights of the heavens and the depths of the seas, but, even though some try, he cannot seem to conquer that six-foot hole. Not a single human has ever come back to life by his own power, and even those whom Christ raised from the dead in the Gospels died later and are still dead.

In this Easter-time, the world is in a mess. All of it is man-made.Nothing seems to be working. There is fear and dread of resurgent Islam. World economies are falling. There are wars, protests, insurrections all over.

Politicians have no answers or the wrong ones. Some Church leaders have rejected their God for human applause. Some feel like a man in a boat without oars heading for a waterfall.

But, God is unchanging. Easter tells us that God still cares about people and is committed to their well-being if they so desire. In a world of chaos and unbelief, the resurrected Christ calls to us and says, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy burdened and I will refresh you.”

Easter tells us that is a real possibility. Recall the words of St. Augustine, “Our hearts were made for Thee, O, God, and they will not rest until they rest in Thee.” The risen Christ is the ONLY answer to man’s problems. That is why he referred to Himself as “THE way, THE truth, and THE life.