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Easter Monday

April 17, 2008

Blessed Resurrection Monday!

_ H E _ I S _ R I S E N _ ! ! !

A L L E L U I A ! _ A L L E L U I A ! _ A L L E L U I A !

Yes, I skipped a day this year. It’s hard to write about Resurrection when Jesus is still in the tomb & Easter itself was a badly-needed day of rest! This post will conclude my reflections for this season…

Acts 2:14, 22-32 (Peter preaches the Resurrection as the fulfillment of prophesy)
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11 “Keep me safe O God, You are my hope”
Sequence (a hymn sung or said before the Gospel on certain special occasions):
Christian, to the Paschal Victim
offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems: Christ, who only is sinless,
reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
what you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
the glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
the shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen:
to Galilee He goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.
+Matthew 28:1-5 (Jesus appears to the women while the chief priests bribe the guards to say Jesus’ body was stolen)

“…it was impossible that death should keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2:24).

“He will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8). “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:55).

Death has been bested at its own game. No longer can it masquerade as a dead end. The Light of the World, passing through it, has revealed death as a doorway to eternal life. He’s returned to transform our mourning into dancing, to replace our sackcloth with the garment of gladness, that we might sing praise to Him without ceasing (Psalm 30:12). He’s come to commission us to spread the Good News, first to His disciples…

We will face opposition. The chief priests have done some commissioning of their own, and the guards who were at the tomb are going around saying Jesus’ body was stolen. But lies will only convince the people who want to believe them. What’s the worst that can happen?! They kill us? So what? Jesus has already been there, done that & come back victorious! In our union with Him, in our Baptism, we’ve already died with Him and come back to tell the story ourselves. Ok, so they kill us again. And we rise again. It is impossible for death to keep its hold on us as long as we’re members of His Body! The martyrs will attest to that–especially all twelve of the Apostles, who rejoiced in Jesus’ Resurrection, and then rejoiced again in their own martyrdoms (Ok, so St. John didn’t die when thrown into the vat of boiling oil, so he’s technically not a martyr, but I dare say he knows the feeling! The rest did die as martyrs).

“The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more.” (Zephaniah 3:15) There’s a reason the words “Fear not” echo throughout the Gospels (Matthew 1:20, Matthew 10:26, 28 & 31, Matthew 28:5, Luke 1:13 & 30, Luke 2:10, Luke 5:10, Luke 8:50, John 12:15, etc.). In Christ, there’s nothing to be afraid of anymore! The only thing we need fear is being separated from Him, because that in itself is the only ultimate tragedy. But “who will separate us from the love of Christ? Trial, or distress or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword? As Scripture says: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day long; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ Yet in all this we are more than conquerors because of Him who has loved us. For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:35-39). No, the only way we can be separated from Christ is to freely, personally reject Him; in other words, to sin. We are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). Through our baptism into Jesus’ death, we have died to that slavery. We are free to reject sin.

That takes some getting used to. This news is just so…well, unbelievable! It can’t be true…but it must be. God can’t lie. Still, old fears die hard. Those old habits of slavery that have became second nature have to be broken if we’re to live in freedom. How do free people live? How do we handle these new challenges, new responsibilities? That was the problem the Israelites had in their new-found freedom from Egypt, during their sojourn through the desert to the Promised Land. Every time things got rough, they complained about their freedom and threatened to go back! (see Exodus 14:11, 16:3, 17:3, Numbers 11:20, 14:2-4, 21:5)

At least we’ve got a head start on that from our forty days of preparation for this stunning turn of events. We’ve already been saying “no” to the things that had a hold on us, to things we valued more than freedom. And we now have fifty days to more fully say “yes” to freedom, to let this new revelation sink in, to let this new light brighten the darkness of our minds as God teaches us about life on a whole new level. Finally, the fire of the Holy Spirit will come upon us at Pentecost to empower us to go out to all the world to proclaim the Good News.

In the meantime, let’s go home to Galilee, where Jesus said He would meet us. Let’s go to learn from Him, to enjoy time with Him, to give our hearts a chance to absorb the good news He’s so eager to share with us. We can’t spread it until we’ve “got it” ourselves…

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