Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Reflection for the Octave of Easter

Icon of Christ the Pantocrator, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem
(Photo by Andrew Shiva)
"The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. After six days in which man in some sense participates in God’s work of creation, the Sabbath is the day of rest. But something quite unprecedented happened in the nascent Church: the place of the Sabbath, the seventh day, was taken by the first day. As the day of the liturgical assembly, it is the day for encounter with God through Jesus Christ who as the Risen Lord encountered his followers on the first day, Sunday, after they had found the tomb empty. The structure of the week is overturned. No longer does it point towards the seventh day, as the time to participate in God’s rest. It sets out from the first day as the day of encounter with the Risen Lord. ...

"This revolutionary development that occurred at the very the beginning of the Church’s history can be explained only by the fact that something utterly new happened that day. The first day of the week was the third day after Jesus’ death. It was the day when he showed himself to his disciples as the Risen Lord. ...

"The first day, according to the Genesis account, is the day on which creation begins. Now it was the day of creation in a new way, it had become the day of the new creation. We celebrate the first day. And in so doing we celebrate God the Creator and his creation. Yes, we believe in God, the Creator of heaven and earth. And we celebrate the God who was made man, who suffered, died, was buried and rose again. We celebrate the definitive victory of the Creator and of his creation. We celebrate this day as the origin and the goal of our existence. We celebrate it because now, thanks to the risen Lord, it is definitively established that reason is stronger than unreason, truth stronger than lies, love stronger than death. We celebrate the first day because we know that the black line drawn across creation does not last for ever. We celebrate it because we know that those words from the end of the creation account have now been definitively fulfilled: 'God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good' (Gen 1:31)."

--Benedict XVI, Homily at Easter Vigil Mass, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 10, 2020

On the Son Who Became a Servant

by Justin Soutar

Today is Good Friday. Today we devoutly recall and prayerfully reflect upon the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. Today we contemplate in silent awe this profound mystery of God's infinite love for sinful humanity and for each one of us. This mind-boggling love impelled the Creator to send his own co-equal and eternal Son to earth as a man, a creature, to be tortured and executed by his own creatures. Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, willingly took upon himself the unimaginably horrific burden of all the sins ever committed and the eternal punishment due for them, freely and deliberately offering himself as a sacrifice to the Father so that we might be freed from sin and spared the awful destiny of eternal separation from God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life" (John 3:16). Divine justice and divine mercy are seamlessly united in Christ's unique sacrifice on the Cross, which is made present in the celebration of each Mass.

This is the incomparable mystery of the all-holy God who purifies his sinful creatures, the King of Heaven who ministers to his unfaithful earthly subjects, the Lord and Master who washes the feet of his servants who betray and abandon him. Jesus is the Son of God who humbled himself to become a suffering servant so that we, God's servants, might be exalted to the status of his adopted sons and daughters. What the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant merely symbolized and prefigured, Christ himself has definitively accomplished: atonement for sin. Fully divine and fully human, Jesus Christ is the greatest hero of world history because by his one and only sacrifice on the Cross he atoned for all human sin, thus making possible the reconciliation of fallen humanity with God.

"We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world."