Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gospel For Today

EASTER SUNDAY

He is risen! Alleluia!  Allow me to wish you a Blessed Easter by taking you back to Holy Thursday.  I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament immediately after the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper; the Sacrament had been removed from the sanctuary and taken to an altar of repose.  Like many churches, our place of repose was decorated with flowers and Easter lilies, making it a reflection of the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Lord spent his final hours before his Passion.

I was reflecting on this, putting myself there in the scene, waiting in the garden, keeping watch with Jesus.  As I meditated on this, a thought entered my mind:  He is there now.  

This was not merely a reenactment of an event which happened long ago.  Christ was there, is there, now, waiting in the garden to be arrested.  When he says, "Stay here and keep watch with me" (Mt 26:38), he is speaking to you and me.  

How can I say Christ is still there at Gethsemane?  Isn't he in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father?  Yes, of course he is.  And that is precisely why he is still in the garden; why he is still suffering on the cross; and why he is even now risen from the tomb.  Christ lives and reigns from eternity.  And eternity gives one a very unique perspective.

Most of us have a very wrong view of what eternity is.  We tend to think of it is just a really, really, really incredibly long time that stretches forever before us without end.  When we think of eternity that way, and imagine heaven as us sitting and adoring God in awe and wonder for endless centuries, we cannot be blamed for thinking, "how boring."  No wonder we don't try very hard to get there.

But eternity is not "a really long time."  Eternity is completely outside of time.  From the perspective of eternity, all time is the present.  We cannot fully understand what that will be like from within time, but it means that there is no past and there is no future.  All time - every moment - is eternally now.

So from his perspective in eternity, Jesus is waiting right now in the garden for the soldiers to arrest him.  He is hanging right now on the cross, bruised and bleeding, struggling to draw one final breath.  He is emerging from the tomb, risen and glorified, the conqueror of death.  He is living through it all, right now, for you and for me.

Today is Easter Sunday.  It is the day in the liturgical year when the Church celebrates in a special way the Resurrection of our Lord.  But in truth, we celebrate the Resurrection every Sunday, just as every Friday is a day of penance in honor of our Lord's death. Every Mass is a memorial of his Passion.  We do not simply remember it as something that happened once long ago.  We believe that the celebration of the Mass truly makes present Christ's sacrifice for us, so that we may participate in it (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1362-1372).   This is only possible because God allows His Church to sacramentally "tap into" eternity.

As I thought of Jesus, from his perspective in eternity, perpetually living through the events we recollect during Holy Week, it occurred to me that this will one day be our perspective as well.  The human soul is immortal.  We will live forever.  That is not in doubt.  The question is what kind of life will it be?  

Every moment of Christ's life is eternally present to Him.  We only know the highlights.  His Incarnation; his being born of the Virgin.  His preaching in the temple.  Turning wine into water at the wedding in Cana.  Restoring sight to the man born blind.  Raising Lazarus from the dead.  The Last Supper.  His trial before Pilate.  His death on a cross.  His rising from the dead.  His ascension into heaven.  Jesus walked with us for thirty-three years.  How many hidden moments were there that we will never know of?  Each of these moments is eternally present to him.  For Jesus, each of these moments was a moment infused with grace.  He never wasted a single breath.

Can you say the same?  I certainly can't.  I have no shortage of wasted moments, missed opportunities, and times in my life that were certainly less than grace-full.  I am reminded of a lyric from Jack Johnson; "If I had a minute for every hour that I wasted, I'd be rich in time."  

In eternity, every moment of your life will be forever present to you.  You can go back and relive them all.  Whether this is a good or bad thing depends entirely on how you lived your life, the choices you have made.  So consider that as we celebrate Easter today.  Jesus Christ is risen TODAY.  This is the day - TODAY - that the Lord has made.  Live it, and every day, the way you want to live forever.

God bless, and Happy Easter!

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

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