How we doing, Church? Does it still feel like Easter Sunday? If it does, good for you! If it doesn’t, then lean on the cross for the victory and hope it holds.
I recall the words of an old Italian priest friend of mine while a seminarian in Rome. When he could see I was struggling, he would say to me: “Forza, Forza. Spinge, Spinge.” Meaning: be strong, keep pushing forward. And I knew he spoke these words as encouragement in faith.
Once again, recall our Easter Sunday profession of Faith. We believe “Jesus will come in glory to judge the living and the dead.” The final phrase of the Nicene Creed says: “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.” Faith in the resurrection of the dead is our supreme hope and beliefe that Christ has conquered the power of death, and that we who believe in Him and faithfully follow and serve Him will share in the resurrection to new and eternal life.
During an after dinner discussion with a couple this week, we spoke of faith, acknowledging the challenge it is to live a life informed by our faith, rather than one shaped by the shifting tides and philosophies of the modern world. As a people who believe in the resurrection of Christ and His promise to come again, we are to live with faith in His final victory, and in the hope of His promise to return.
One of my favorite Easter statements from Scripture is found in the Letter to the Colossians: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1) St. Paul goes on to say: “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2-4)
This is the challenge of the Christian life; to live with our hearts and minds on the things that are above. We are to live not only with the faith that we will share in the resurrection of Christ, but this faith must inform the way we live here and now. One of the pitfals of modern Christianity is that it is simply enough to ‘profess this faith’ without allowing it to shape our life. How many people live proclaiming to be Catholic or Christian but there is no practical evidence?
A phrase in the Church growing in popularity today is ‘intentional discipleship.’ The New Evangelization is a wake up call to all people of faith that it is not enough to simply profess faith. Faith must be lived. It is doubtful God will miraculously welcome us into heaven at the moment of our death if we have not intentionally lived our faith in Christ during this life. Christ told us that to be his disciples, we must take up our cross everyday and follow him. (Mark 8:34)
Jesus tells us: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.” Matthew 7:21-23)
Easter has dawned. Arise from complacency. Know the faith. Live the faith. Look to the things that are in heaven, with the hope of one day achieving citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Keep turning to the Risen One who willingly and abundantly grants faith, hope, love, courage and the strength to follow where He leads. Live in Christ. In Him is our final victory!
“Glorify the Lord by your life. Alleluia! Alleluia!”