Embracing the Triumph of Christ

F or starters, it is important to say, “thank you” on behalf of the parish staff, to those who have been so helpful in seeing to the celebration of Holy Week and Easter this year. These include all the liturgical ministers (Lectors, Ushers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion), and those who coordinated them, Joe Yourczek, Marcus Connolly, Tom and Mary O’Neill, the altar servers, the sacristans, all those involved in musicministry, and the environment team, led by Mike and Teri Berndt. This year, of all years, we thank you for being at the service of the parish!

In every liturgical season, we are invited to make that season a part of our home, our job, our family. Those who do so know that this invitation to participate is our invitation to the life of Faith. God’s invitation to participate in Lent is an opportunity to prepare for celebration through work, deprivation, and delaying gratification. Taking part in the barrenness of the desert, the emptiness of hunger makes us more able to take part in the fullness of celebration.

Each year, the Church invites us to participate in the journey of Christ in the desert. Then she invites us to participate in the very Paschal Mysteries that have gained salvation for those who choose holiness, choose to be set apart for God. Today, the Church invites us to participate in the joy of God himself, in the Sabbath that follows the completion of God’s definitive work of love.

This Easter, let me extend to you the invitation to make a new beginning in faith, especially if perhaps your Lent wasn’t a time of sacrifice. For, even now, God is inviting us to begin to walk with him, to know him, to enter into life, and now—more than any other time of year—to come back to life.

This may be your first time in a church in many years, perhaps in exactly a year, or maybe just since Christmas. May I offer you this truth: God wants better for you.  God’s most earnest desire is that you’d allow him to love you today, tomorrow, every hour, every minute, every second. Communing with you now and then is not enough for God, and I suggest that more so, it’s not enough for you.

So, the invitation to you today is to rise from a life that disappoints, that taxes and exhausts your spirit. Come to life from the inside out. Emerge from the tomb of broken promises, unmet expectations, betrayal, and unforgiveness to a new life lived in God’s presence, fueled by divine inspiration through prayer, and led by the example of every saint in history.

Likewise, if you find your faith injured, crippled, or confused by the rash of recent revelation of truly unacceptable behavior perpetrated by priests, or by questionable decisions on the part of Church leaders, this season of resurrection can be your opportunity to rise from those hurts, and embrace your true Leader, Jesus himself. Place your trust in him anew, perhaps in spite of the human failures you observe in others, perhaps out of a determination to be rid of the sin in your own life, perhaps out of the simple realization that you need God.

There is no point in pretending there has been no sin on the part of those we trust, just as there is no point pretending we have not sinned. Depriving ourselves of the Body of Christ, as if that would punish those whose sin we find repulsive, is foolish. Lent is a time to be more appalled by our own faults than those of others, and for striving to uproot every sinful pattern from the soil of our hearts. Easter is to be a time for receiving the budding seed of faithful living, and for reaping the harvest of love and holiness and truth.

Lay aside the betrayal, the confusion, the embarrassment, and the heartache you may rightly feel. Instead of letting your faith be crippled, embrace instead the triumph of Jesus, whose cross renders sin impotent. Claim your own portion of the mercy God bestows on the world by virtue of Jesus’ rising. Come up from the stale tomb to breathe the fresh and sweet air of a life lived in communion with the person of Jesus, and those whom he loves.

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