Easter Sunday: He is Risen!


Happy Easter to all!  Today, the secular world marks a somewhat confusing holiday that celebrates rebirth and the fertility of Spring characterized by rabbits, flowers, and little marshmallow chicks.  If you’re Catholic, however, you mark this day as the triumphant victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over death as he rose from the grave.  Many better theologians than I can (and have) filled volumes explaining the significance of this day, but our parish priest summed it up very succinctly today: Christ proved with his Resurrection that he is no longer bound by the physical, material limitations of our world.  He exercises His Divinity in this way so that we may know that he is with us always, and he can present himself to us in surprising ways throughout our life.  The priest gave examples of the poor man you meet on the street, the troublesome coworker, or your family and friends… all of these can be ways to experience Christ in your life.  He’s there with them just like he’s there with us.

I experience a very simple truth in Christ’s Resurrection: He died and rose so that we can learn how to die to self, turn away from sin, and He gave us a foretaste of the glory we can expect from living this life in accordance to the Will of God.  The priest’s words struck a chord with me, that it is possible to experience Christ in the mundane comings and goings of life.  It reminded me of a quote from Mother Teresa about her work with the extremely poor:

We try to pray through our work by doing it with Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus. That helps us to put our whole heart and soul into doing it. The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved they are Jesus in disguise.

This led me to dwell briefly on the photos that have graced secular media of Pope Francis kissing babies and taking extra time to bless a handicapped man in the crowd.  He’s treating these people as if they are Jesus in disguise.  I believe that being Christian means that we – in our sinful, fallen state – can work each day to be more and more like Christ and also recognize Christ in others.

How do we do that, exactly?  Simple: follow the example that Christ gave us.  He lowered himself to be human like us, humbly accepted the Cross and forgave the people that ultimately would crucify Him, and He was obedient to God’s Will even to the point of death.  We can lower ourselves by understanding that we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people.  We can be obedient by loving our neighbor and recognizing that they too are carrying their own Crosses.  We can be like Christ when we forgive those that wrong us, truly understanding that the people we meet are Christ presented in a shockingly human disguise.

So the secular world can have it’s strange amalgamation of rabbit metaphors and marshmallow chicks, I would much rather spend my time reflecting on one of the greatest mysteries ever to reveal itself to humankind.


All Saint’s Day

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints, the holy day of obligation where we celebrate and honor all souls that have received the beatific vision in Heaven.  Why are those souls to be honored?  Because it’s hard to get to Heaven.  Especially hard given the influence of today’s society.

Saint John Chrysostom once responded to the question of how many people would be saved:

“What do you think? How many of the inhabitants of this city may perhaps be saved? What I am about to tell you is very terrible, yet I will not conceal it from you. Out of this thickly populated city with its thousands of inhabitants not one hundred people will be saved. I even doubt whether there will be as many as that!”

So today we go to Mass and remember not only the spectacular lives of the Saints that we have heard of throughout the years, but also the lives of those that are unknown to us.  Some of you might be wondering who these spectacular saints are that we haven’t heard from… some are merely lost to antiquity.  Others are saints that you might not think of… that quiet, pious old lady that always showed up at Mass or in the line for Confession…  the unborn children that never truly had an opportunity to gravely sin in life… the souls that weathered the cleansing of Purgatory and achieved Heaven.  These souls are equally deserving of our veneration and respect when compared to the saints that you see Churches built to honor or that have Feast Days on the liturgical calendar.

I will spend my time this evening remembering these saints and reflecting on ways that I can make my life parallel theirs.  It is today when we can reflect on the fact that the ultimate goal is Heaven, and we must do everything we can to get there and in doing so we honor those that have gone before us.

All Saints, pray for us.