04/08/2018 - "WHO WILL SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST?......"

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

The Issue

On Easter Sunday, we celebrated the climactic moment of the Triduum we just walked through. The Last Supper, Jesus’ death on the Cross culminating with His breathtaking victory over sin and death by rising from the dead.

To get to this moment of joy and light, we had to go through a place of darkness, loneliness, hopelessness and fear.

As Jesus hung on the Cross, before he gave up his spirit, the Gospel tells us that he gave a “loud cry”.

The catechism says, “All the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word.” (#2606)

In that cry, the Father heard every single cry of every single human for all of history.

We know how things ought to be, but when we experience the workings of evil around us, in the world, in the people we interact with, and even in our own hearts and minds, we feel broken and disconnected from God’s love.

Whatever the suffering is - whether it’s the fear of death, or of failing, whether it’s the feeling of being unloved, unwanted, or unseen, whether it’s physical pain, an emotional disorder, or a mental illness, we can look at the cries in our lives and around us, and want to run away from it all.

We can feel the urgent panic that says, “Too hard! Too much hurt! Back out!” But then we see Christ on the Cross, obedient even to the point of death, and we have to ask - why? Why is every baptized Christian, baptized into his death? And if every Christian is baptized into death, how can I really be expected to sign up to be a Good Christian?

The Newsflash

Whether you come here every week, or every day, or just a couple times a year, or if you haven’t been here in a long time, I’m so happy you’re here because I have something really important I want share with you.

It’s a message for all of you: both for those of you who don’t consider yourselves to be very good Christians and for those of you who think you do a pretty good job at being a Christian.

Are you ready for it? This is important: GOD NEVER ASKED YOU TO BE A GOOD CHRISTIAN. God doesn’t even need you to try to be a good Christian. Let me explain: I’ll try to give you some insight into God’s plan for your life from His perspective:

The Disillusionment

Our FATHER would say: I NEVER ASKED YOU TO BE A GOOD CHRISTIAN!

Do you think the reason MY SON became man, preached, died, and rose from the dead was so that you could spend your life trying to impress me?

When you think of Me or talk to Me, you bring your pre-defined rules of engagement to our relationship. You hold up what you perceive to be my expectations of you, and on the flip side you place before My eyes, your expectations of Me. And you have this strong notion that somehow if only we each would hold up our end of the bargain, everything would be okay.

You think, “If only I can be a good Christian and follow these rules, then God will be happy with me and love me and bless me with a nice life.” And when you find that you can’t follow the rules that well, you live most of your life thinking that I am unhappy with you or dissatisfied with you. Or if you do experience suffering, you think I owe you better than that because you tried so hard to follow the rules.

Do you think I’m like the people around you, who measure value by success? Do you think I look at you and see your failures?  Do you think there are conditions on My love for you? 

Well, I NEVER ASKED YOU TO BE A GOOD CHRISTIAN! That life is not the life I want for you! That’s so much smaller than the life I have planned for you! That’s not the fullness of life that My Son won for you on the Cross!

The Real Deal

Do you want me to show you a new way of life? If you do, then listen carefully: You need to hand me your rules of engagement.

You can’t live this new way of life and freedom and peace that I have for you unless you let go of your control over our relationship.

I created you to be loved. I created you so that I might share my eternal life with you. My Son chose to pay the price for all your faithlessness, that debt is covered.

All I ask of you is this:

Believe in My love for you.

Believe that I love you.

Trust Me.

Place your fears, wounds, chains, addictions, disappointments and doubts into Jesus’ hands and in exchange receive the joy and peace of being loved by a Good and Kind Father.

That’s it. All the rest of the Christian life comes out of that singular exchange: You hand me your brokenness, I hand you my love. You hand me your dead life, I breathe pure vitality into it and hand it back to you. Over and over and over.

The Exaltation

When the catechism describes that cry of Jesus as the sum of all the cries of humanity, enslaved by sin and death, it then describes the unbelievable miracle we celebrate in this Liturgy:

“Here the Father accepts them [the cries of humanity] and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son.” This is the answer to all our cries: Resurrection. That everything dead God will restore to life again.

What we couldn’t dare hope for, we see fulfilled here in the Easter mystery:

Our Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit rejoice mightily!

JESUS, Son of the Father, has trampled upon death, He dances on the grave. When Death came to pounce on and devour the lifeless, bruised, bloody Body of Jesus and take prisoner His Soul, Jesus removed the veil and revealed His Glory and Divinity. What a sight, the Son of God, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, trampled upon death and dealt death a mortal blow!

Through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, our Father has revealed His judgment, and his judgment is this: you are worthy of love!

And the victory of Jesus over sin and death means that there is absolutely nothing that the evil one can bring against us that can separate us from the love of God!  

When Jesus’ soul and spirit were reunited with His lifeless body, the glory of God’s sons and daughters was revealed!

We are destined for glory. And all that is required of us is that we learn to let ourselves be loved, totally loved by the Father. Being loved by our Father opens us up to loving one another as He has loved us!

We find all the answers here - in this love, in this exchange, in this mystery, in this Glory. Jesus has opened up a New Way of Life for us: a Way to journey HOME, to our Father’s loving embrace!

We can do this! Let's do it together! During the week remember to pray for each other.

Fr. Michael