From Father Steven - April 9, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Christ is Risen, He is truly Risen, Alleluia!
This is one of the most ancient greetings from the Church. As we read in the Gospel on this Easter Sunday how the women told the Apostles, and after seeing for themselves, they confirm it. We know that this is true, but how does that change our life, or what is the impact of the resurrection of Christ in us?
Imagine the people who are afraid of water because of a childhood trauma. Whenever they come in contact with water, or even at times think about water, they can panic. Once they overcome their fear, they can enjoy swimming, going to the beach and other water-related activities. Another scenario can be that of a snake that bites people and through their fangs insert poison into someone. Certainly, we should not be around them because they are dangerous. Now, imagine a snake that has no fangs nor venom, would it be dangerous and lethal? The same way we can speak about love. Because of certain traumas and things that happened in our past, we can be afraid of loving others, or even allowing other people into our lives. We can fear being heart-broken again, or hurt in a different way, so in order to avoid it, we don’t love. This is trickery from the devil. In the letter to the Hebrews, it says that the devil enslaves man through the fear of death all their lives (Heb 2:15). He enslaves or shackles us in a way that we can’t move. Just like in the scenarios above, we miss out on the fun of swimming because of the fear we have. Jesus comes to overcome death, that is, he conquers death in a way that is no longer scary. It remains there, but it can no longer affect us. Similarly like the snake, once the fangs are removed, it can no longer poison us, or kill us. It becomes harmless.
By the death of Christ, our sins are forgiven. The punishment that we should have received for our sins falls on him. However, if our sins are forgiven, we are still not saved. We remain with our same lives, just without the condemnation hanging over our heads. To focus on the death of Christ is incomplete. The passion of Christ is his death AND RESURRECTION. It is only by the resurrection that we receive a new life. Only by him rising again can we be saved. And if we are raised with Christ, meaning, if we experience this resurrection, St. Paul says, then we no longer are worried of the things of earth, but rather of the things of above. (Col 3:1-2). He goes on to say that we are dead (to the world) and now the life we have is “hidden with Christ in God.” We are only capable of love, to reach out to others, regardless of their actions, if we are completely united with Christ. As we experience his death by our self-denial, we are raised with a different mind. In a way, we already experienced that in our baptism, which is a symbolism of Christ’s death and resurrection. When we are bathed in the waters of baptism, it represents that the old man with our sinful nature (original sin) is buried in those waters. Then as we rise from the waters, we rise as a new man, a man in Christ. St. Paul would describe it as, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” (2Co 5:17) This new creation given to us in our baptism, and renewed or relived on Easter is this opportunity to live a new life. In other words, the life of anger, lack of forgiveness, “selective” love, resentment is past and conquered. In turn, a love of patience and selfless love, forgiveness appears.
On Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, we have the opportunity to start a new life. It is not a life by effort as many times we think is the only way we can put up with others. The new Life of Christ risen from the dead is a life free from the shackles that prevent us to live the life of Christ in us, without an effort. As you can see on the icon of the front page of the bulletin, Christ breaks the doors that lock us away from others. I hope that you may all experience today the power of the resurrection and may allow the graces of Christ to flow into your lives, especially in those areas where we need help.
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Father Steven Clemence