Bishop Christensen's 2012 Easter message
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Placing Our Confidence in Jesus
We worry about everything: The threat of war, political corruption, social relations, family difficulties, children to raise, health, the next day’s bread, the future of our loved ones, etc. How can we not ask at every turn, “What is going to happen? How will this turn out?” The main thing is not to consent consciously to anxiety or a troubled mind.
The moment you realize you are worrying, make very quickly an act of confidence: “No, Jesus, you are there: nothing – nothing – happens, not a hair falls from our heads, without your permission. I have no right to worry.” Perhaps he is sleeping in the boat, but he is there. He is always there. He is all-powerful; nothing escapes his vigilance. He watches over each one of us “as over the apple of his eye.”
He is all love, all tenderness. It is really an offense against him when we worry voluntarily about anything. That is what causes him pain. That is what wounds his heart more than anything else. Such gentle words return constantly to his lips, in an endless refrain which should rejoice our ears and expand our hearts: “Do not be afraid. It is I – Jesus.”
From the book: “I Believe in Love”
by Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbee
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|A number of years ago I made a 30-day silent retreat in California. As you can imagine, 30 days of silence has a way of sharpening other senses. With so much silence the little events of daily life jump out with messages and meaning that otherwise might be hidden by a more active life.|
One such event had to do with California poppies. They grew wild on the retreat grounds, so I decided to pick a few to brighten up my room. After about a week the petals dropped off the stems. Soon thereafter, from the same stems grew cucumber-shaped pods about two inches in length. These pods eventually fell from their stems as well. Two weeks later, at exactly the same time in the afternoon, all the dried pods began to pop, spreading hundreds, if not thousands of black poppy seeds everywhere in the room.
What seemed to be the end of the flower gave way to new life in the pod, and what seemed to be the end of the withered pod gave birth to a new hope of continued life for the next generation of poppies.
From time to time I think back on this journey of life for the poppy and let it serve as a reminder that what may seem to be over or complete on one level, may indeed be staging for yet another. How true this is for the journey of the Christian — beginning with Christ himself. This past week we celebrated Good Friday, which can only be referred to as “Good” for the very reason that it gave birth to the new and glorious life we celebrate on Easter Sunday. That which looked like the end for Jesus and his first followers on Calvary was just the beginning of a whole new life for each of them on that first Easter morning.
The same is true for each of us. We learn by faith that our journey is one of hope. Our hope dwells in the truth that there is life everlasting for all who put their trust in our Lord. The fruit of our hope will be known at the time of our death when, as St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians 3:12, “Jesus will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.”
The Easter season reminds us that there is a transformation to take place at the end of our earthly lives. And yet, this cycle of life is experienced already in the lives we live now; for over and over again, we see the hand of God moving, transforming, restoring those things that might otherwise seem to be completely over or irreconcilable. We believe that Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is able to work miracles of transformation in every aspect of our lives. For our part, we need to call upon him, placing our hope in his saving grace to do so. It is the Easter message we live today.
I conclude with a story I recently heard regarding a good friend’s mother. She has 30 years’ worth of journals that contain prayer requests. Each of the books lists the prayers as they were prayed and the date the prayers were offered for her family and friends. Next to each prayer request that she made to God, she entered the specifics of the request and the date she prayed. At the appropriate time she would go back to the original request and enter a new date and include next to it the details of how the prayer was answered. Her books are journals of faith. They contain within them a life of hope and trust in Jesus. Visible on every page is the power of our Lord bringing transformation and the experience of resurrection into the here and now.
No matter what we go through in our lives, no matter how difficult or seemingly helpless the events might be, they are never beyond the power of God to save. This is our Easter faith. I hope that the lived reality of faith we place in Jesus Christ will reassure us of this truth in our new season of grace; for whether evidenced in the natural or supernatural it is all one and the same to Him.
Bishop Peter Christensen
© Superior Catholic Herald, April 12, 2012