The book Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly begins with a story about a pandemic. Our existence is threatened by a pandemic, a pandemic of sin. It separates us from each other. It causes fear and hopelessness. It leads to death. And everyone’s infected. We all have a strain of selfishness and self-centeredness that runs through what we say and do. We might say, “I’m a good person. I’m not infected. Surely it is not I, Lord?”
In order to cure sin, we needed the blood of a spotless victim. God gave his only Son, Jesus Christ. He is the cure, he is the antidote. He offers a blood transfusion, a heart transplant, to make us whole again. And it cost him his life.
On Holy Thursday I talked about the Eucharist. I said that the Real Presence of Jesus allows us to decode the other presences of God in the universe. When we can see God in bread and wine, we can also see him in oil and water, fire and wind. We can that the whole world, and we ourselves, are also a sacrament.
In a similar way, Jesus is not the only time that God has entered the world. Jesus is the visible sign of what God has always been doing. He has been walking with us from the beginning of time until eternity. He teaches us to reject selfishness and live a life of self-giving love. He is teaching us to die to ourselves as individuals and rise to new life in Him. And frankly, in a world filled with sin, self-sacrifice looks like death. We would be afraid to walk this road if Jesus hadn’t walked it first. Jesus shows us that light conquers darkness, that life wins, that true love wins, and that we are invited to be part of the winning team.
Jesus also reveals the power we have to reject God’s plans. Will you listen to Jesus and follow him, or reject him and go your own way?
Do this in memory of me! This is why Christians gather every year to remember the Resurrection. It is not just something that happened that one time a long time ago. It is rather the new life that God is offering us right here and right now, in this moment. He is inviting you to take up your cross and follow him, to die to yourself and rise to new life.
And it’s not just a yearly thing — it is a weekly and even daily invitation. Every Sunday is a little Easter. In fact, in Catholic tradition every Friday is a little Good Friday, a day to abstain from meat, or offer some other sacrifice. You should be fasting on Fridays and feasting on Sundays. It is a chance to die to yourself and to rise to new life in Christ.
In fact, every day is an opportunity to die and rise. Catholic tradition has long encouraged us to make an examination of Conscience and an act of Contrition before bed. We can die to the ways that I was selfish that day. Then in the morning we rise to new life in Christ. Christ is Risen! And we can rise to new life in Christ every year, every week, every day.
I want to close with a poem: How the Virus Stole Easter, from Kristi at the This Side of Heaven Blog.
(12 Apr 2020)
Going Deeper: What in my life needs to end, to die? What is the new thing God is beginning or inviting me to this Easter? What does new life in Christ look like for me right now?
Image Source | Big thanks to my Easter livestream team: Dave & Cindy, John & Amy, Bill, Joyce, Sharon, Will