Faith and Family

We are emerging from a Lenten time that has hopefully made you think about your life, your faith and your possibilities. In particular, as we approach Easter, I hope you will give some time to thinking about new life.

A Time of Dying

I love Lent because it brings into focus the many ways that I want to strive to be better. I engage in more prayer, I give up things, I am more generous with those in need. These practices bring to my distracted mind that my life here on Earth is brief, that my decisions are important and that what I choose to do and to avoid doing matter.

One of the many aspects of Lent and especially Holy Week is the opportunity to embrace the cross. This is a time of dying; dying to bodily pleasures that we will deny ourselves, dying to creature comforts that we will forgo, dying to watching this show or accessing that social media, dying to giving in so quickly to our temper or our impatience. All of these are truly wonderful. All this mortification makes us strong. We notice that prior to Lent we had let ourselves enjoy a little bit too much of what this world offers and thought too little about our eternal destiny.

Signs of New Life

This self-denial is itself already a sign of new life. We will not be conquered so easily by our enemy — the Devil — in the disguise of a webpage or a TV show or a dessert. We will not think so much of ourselves and instead think more of others, think more of God. But there enters into our consciousness a deeper truth. There is in this world a power greater than the power of evil, there is a power greater than our own efforts to improve, there is a power that can break all bonds, even the bond of death itself. This is the ultimate sign of new life: the Resurrection.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he gave a permanent and undeniable sign to all of us. First, he tells us that all of our efforts to embrace the cross are worth it, all of our struggle to control our temper, to curb our bodily appetites, all our striving to do the right thing, all of them are worth it. In him, there is new life, a new life that embraces me and embraces you, a new life that embraces the woman caught in adultery and the man born blind. This new life burst forth on Easter morning for the salvation of the world; it burst forth to rescue the lost, to heal the sick, to make whole those who are broken and traumatized, to reconcile those who are divided. That new life surged forth to rescue you and to rescue me.

We all have access to this new life. In our Baptism, we received this incalculable grace. In the sacraments, it is poured out upon us. In the Eucharist, we become so intimate with it. My dear friends, we live in the time of Resurrection power. If Lent taught us nothing else this year, let it teach us that we were not made for this world, we are passing through, and in the passing we receive power from on high to do and be what he would do and be. We continue his mission out of love and not obligation; we love as he loved, we forgive as he forgave, we reach out to the least and the lost because it is his power that enables us to not only conquer ourselves but, in conquering ourselves, to be empowered by the same Spirit that gave him new life. This Spirit gives us the courage and the stamina and the wisdom and the gifts, and the capacities, to do as he would have done. We live humbled by the awesomeness of his grace flowing through our veins and our hearts, we live in gratitude that he chose us, little us, to share in his divine grace, his divine life, we live emboldened to do what is right and just. We live a new life in Christ who, in unfathomable love, lived and died and rose for us and invited us to the adventure, the joy, the peace, the wholeness of a new type of life.

“I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:19b – 20.