Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our Joy, Our Hope!

Two thousand years ago, the first Christians, a group of men and women who followed and accompanied Jesus of Nazareth throughout his public ministry, happily confessed that the Crucified, “the one killed by hanging him on a cross,” had changed their lives. He had taken them out of an old human condition and transformed them into new men and women: with new mentality, a new way of being and acting in the world. From that point on they believed, confessed, proclaimed and celebrated that Jesus was alive; that the Christ was resurrected; that the last word from God “the Father” about his Son’s life was not death; that the resurrection of Jesus meant triumph of life over death, triumph of good over the manifestation and experience of evil in the world. These facts bring to human history the view of a new horizon and a possibility to see the hope that does not die.

Transformed by the once dead whom they now confess is alive, they can so confess precisely because of the change which he brought to their lives. The first Christians go out to the world to share and to preach with words and actions the good news of the Resurrection. At the same time they consign in writing their confessions of faith, together with historical facts which occurred in their small, new, fraternal and Eucharistic community of believers.

All this shows that the Resurrection is, more than a doctrinal body, the foundation of Christianity. It is a new life experience of transformed life, abundant life; and a manifestation against evil, sin and death. The resurrection which we celebrate is a conviction which is manifested and sustained with a new lifestyle. Through it, Christians devote themselves and hope for the construction of a better world; that is to say, a more divine world in its profound humanity.

Through Christ’s Resurrection, Christiany as well as each Christian, rises to propose a more equitable world: more just, more solidarious, more visible, more fraternal, more human. They would be against all manifestation of evil, against all inhuman and dehumanizing experiences, against all aggression to human and humanity, against anything which damages the image and likeness of God in his creatures.

The Resurrection, therefore, is a confession of faith. It is the liturgical feast, but --above all-- it is the personal and ecclesial commitment to be in and for the world daily; a space/time of hope among hopelessness; a sign of joy among sadness; a space of mercy among so many forms of selfishness, division and violence; an opportunity for peace in the middle of war, pain and death. This is the evangelistic task of the Church. In it resides the reason to be and to exist of the Christian Community, and gives it its identity and its mission in the world.

Never before has it been more opportune, never more convenient, but also never more compromising to have the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ --our celebration with him and in him-- in a world in crisis, in a society urged with men and with new and transformed structures. Never before has there been the present urgency to live and to share what it means to confess that Christ lives!

“Easter” (Greek: Pascha) comes from the Hebrew word which means “to pass”: “to pass” through the Red Sea, “to pass” from death to life, from sin to grace, from life without Christ to a life in Him; from hate to love, from indifference to a solidary commitment; from a world without God to a world constructed for humanization which is deification

May these days of “Passover” celebration mean the renovation of our most important Christian commitment in a personal and ecclesial manner: to be (for a world in crisis) a sign of the new and abundant life which Christ offers to us. Happy Easter! Blessed Pascha!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

HOLY WEEK “He who gives his life . . .”

Holy Week is the most important week for Christians. In it, especially in the “Paschal Triduum”, Christians celebrate and commemorate in synthesis the happenings in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Those three days are the pillars in which our Christian faith is founded: his passion, his death and his resurrection. As the Apostle Paul says: “If Christ wasn’t raised to life, our message is worthless, and so is our faith.” (1 Co. 15.14)

The portal to Holy Week is Palm Sunday: the commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The dramatic reading of the passion and death of Jesus becomes a foretaste of the days we celebrate after the “Paschal Triduum.” The passion, the conviction of an innocent and his death endorse a lifestyle that He himself lives and preaches as a synonym of happiness --to give one’s live for the ones we love without thinking of ourselves, because: “If you try to save your life, you will loose it. But if you give it up for the Gospel, you will surely find it.” The resurrection, through which God-Father validates all in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth as “the way, the truth and the life” is what God wants and suggests, in Jesus, for every man and woman of goodwill.

All of Jesus’ life, especially in the Catholic liturgy of Holy Week, is presented as a model of humaneness, as the first vocation to which should aspire all who recognize themselves as creatures and children of God-Father in Jesus Christ; since “the mystery which is man becomes clear in the word made flesh: Jesus Christ”. (GS22)

Therefore, today as yesterday, the hope, the pain, the sufferings and the evil which all humans experience in the daily task of being man or woman, become clear --especially during Holy Week and specifically on Holy Thursday and Holy Friday-- through the pain and suffering of the one from Nazareth who, confidently, puts his life and destiny in the hands of the Father (“…not my will, but thine be done”). At the same time the Paschal Vigil lightens our thirst for infinitude, our hope, our longing for the transcendental, our dreams for a full life, our projections of the future which does not end in the here and now of temporal history.

Because the Resurrection --a confession of faith about the triumph of life over death in Jesus-- is a confession that in the final and definitive destiny of man’s life, is victorious over death, hope triumphs over hopelessness, and the kindness and mercy of God triumphs over evil. This confession of faith urges and commits us to build through our acts and our words, and through our attitudes and behavior an abundant life in the here and now of our existence.

Holy Week depicts, like no other liturgical period, the paradox and mystery of human life in the specific life of Jesus of Nazareth; and through it the paradox of the Christian mystery –which is power from weakness and salvation from the insanity of the wooden cross. Because we, as Paul says, preach of Christ crucified, which is a scandal for the world, but is for us “power and strength.”

May we, from this Holy Week, (while commemorating what Jesus went through and what happened to him two thousand years ago), draw power and strength to lighten up our personal and communitarian story; and open our hopes to the celebration of the liturgical Pascua and the final Pascua which we await and are constructing in the now but not yet of our present story.