Alleluia

Are you living as an Easter people of God or still in Golgotha?

As married couples, there are a lot of practical lessons that we can learn about relationship from the death and resurrection of Christ as shared by Fr. Mark Demanuele, MSSP during the Easter Recollection organized by the The Feast Bay Area Couple’s Ministry.

As a missionary, Fr. Mark shared his journey of challenges as an Easter person.

Easter people of God

The beauty of the cross is in the promise of Easter, where God shows His natures as a redeemer and restorer. If your marriage is in a time of stress and pain, put your hope in the one who sees past the immediate circumstances of your life and into a hopeful and wonderful future. It is very possible that God could use the current difficulty in your marriage to create something even more beautiful and enduring than you could ever imagine. As you celebrate Easter with your family this year, take some time to reflect on the meaning for your marriage. Allow the wonderful and powerful spiritual truths of Easter breathe new life into your relationship, and your bond will be stronger for it.

He pointed everyone to the powerful exhortation of St. John Paul II back in 1986:

“We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!”. We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the “fundamental duty of love of neighbour, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of Joy”. We realize that joy is demanding; it demands unselfishness; it demands a readiness to say with Mary: “Be it done unto me according to thy word”.

In particular if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up.

If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume and in due course bearing fruit.

Jesus resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.

Characteristics of Easter people as shared by Fr. Mark:

  • Easter people rejoice in Jesus’ death AND resurrection. (Romans 5:10)
  • Easter people preach the resurrection more than one day a year. (Acts 4:2)
  • Easter people long for their resurrection brought by Jesus as much as or if not more so than a temporary bodiless existence in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:7-11; Revelation 21)
  • Easter people long to see Jesus restore creation from the curse of decay. (Romans 8 )
  • Easter people speak up at great cost against the ‘principalities and powers’ of this world because Jesus is our risen King and he is king over them all. (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 2:7-9)
  • Easter people are willing to deny themselves and lose all things for the sake of Christ now because Christ, by the power of his resurrection, has promised to restore all things and reward his disciples in the ‘life after the next life’. (Matthew 19:27-28; Mark 10:28-31; Revelation 21:5)

As an “Easter People,” our response to the gift of forgiveness and eternal life compels us to try to live lives that reflect our new status. We are a people forgiven, healed and renewed by Jesus’ Body and Blood, and we are called to share that Good News with the whole world.

Our response can and should be rooted in love. As Jesus himself has told us, love for God and love for our neighbor is the foundation of Christian living. Because God first loved us, loved us so much that we were given God’s only son for our salvation, our response to this love is not only to love God as deeply and fully as we are able, but also to love everyone else as deeply and fully as we love ourselves.

As couples, our relationship with God matters most.

We need to nurture the loving relationship of husbands and wives like how Christ offered His life in the cross.

In this time of violence, strife, argument and disagreement, God continues to call us to love not to hate. God continues to call us to look beyond the immediate to the eternal.

What in a moment of anger or outrage might satisfy our pride is most probably not consistent with the loving future God wants for us.

It is not God who has created the turmoil that surrounds us; it is turmoil of our own making born from our love of self above our love of others.

This Easter, amidst the joy and celebration of our new lives in Christ, let us also celebrate the joy of new life with others.

Let us begin to set aside our pride and petty difference that not only separate us from each other, but also separate us from God.

Let us strive to become an “Easter People” who know and reflect God’s love through our love for one another as equals—equally beloved children of God.

Brighter

My first Black Saturday recollection with the Light of Jesus (LOJ) community reminded me that in order for the light of God in our lives to shine brighter and brighter we have to consistently connect with the source of electricity.

Bawal ang jumper!

Bro. Alvin Barcelona, The Feast Bay Area District Builder reaffirmed what the bible said – we are the light of the world, so each of us is a light bearer.

Brighter

We experience a lot of darkness in our life. Sometimes we are scared, angry, sad, depressed, lost, and lonely. Sometimes we are sick and in pain. Sometimes we mourn the loss of someone we love. Darkness can also mean being in sin and unbelief. And then there is death– the ultimate darkness. It’s not good to be in the dark. In the dark, we cannot see. We cannot recognize others and even ourselves. We cannot recognize God and we are unable to see what He does in our lives. In the midst of our darkness, Jesus is there to meet us, to be with us, and to be our light. We know He is there because He, too, experienced all our darkness, even death. Maybe we don’t see Him immediately, but He is there. He may come in the darkest moments of our lives like a small flicker of light that would appear very brightly in the midst of great darkness. He comes to us because God our Father, the maker of light and giver of life, doesn’t want us to be lost in darkness. And when we live in the light, we see who we are, who others are, and who God is.

And as you know, light is intended to enlighten and drive away any form of darkness.

We have to realize though, that we do not have light on our own.

The light we radiate is the reflection of the light we have received from God.

We are to let our lights shine before men in such a way that they will see our good works and glorify God. That’s how we do it. We live for God.

We have to surrender our lives to Him completely. Christ says we are to “let” our lights shine.

In other words, when you get right with God and are filled with the Holy Spirit, He will simply shine through you.

Are you willing to burn brightly for the Lord?

Black Saturday Reflection

Yesterday, Good Friday, there was no Eucharist – simply a communion service, with the Body of Christ from the Holy Thursday Eucharist.

Today, Holy Saturday, there is no liturgy at all. The liturgy this evening is the vigil – the preparation for and entry into the celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection. It is an Easter Sunday liturgy.

Fr. Andy Alexander, S.J. shared that on Holy Saturday we enter into the mystery. Today we contemplate Jesus, there in the tomb, dead.

In that tomb, he is dead, exactly the way each of us will be dead. We don’t easily contemplate dying, but we rarely contemplate being dead.

With death, life ends. Breathing stops, and in an instant, the life of this person has ended. And, in a matter of hours, the body becomes quite cold and life-less – dramatic evidence that this person no longer exists. All that is left is this decaying shell that once held his or her life.

Death is our ultimate fear. Everything else we fear, every struggle we have, is some taste of, some chilling approach to, the experience of losing our life.

This fear is responsible for so much of our lust and greed, so much of our denial and arrogance, so much of our silly clinging to power, so much of our hectic and anxiety-driven activity. It is the one, inevitable reality we all will face. There is not enough time, money, joy, fulfillment, success.

Our physical beauty and strength, our mental competency and agility, all that we have and use to define ourselves, slip away from us with time.

Our lives are limited. Our existence is coming to an end. We will all die. In a matter of time, all that will be left of any of us is a decomposing body.

Today is a day to soberly put aside the blinders we have about the mystery of death and our fear of it.

Death is very real and its approach holds great power in our lives.

The “good news” we are about to celebrate has no real power in our lives unless we have faced the reality of death.

To contemplate Jesus’ body, there in that tomb, is to look our death in the face.

Today’s reflection will lead us to the vigil of Easter.

This night, communities from all over the world will gather in darkness, a darkness that represents all that we have been reflecting upon today.

And there, in that darkness, a fire is lit. That flame is shared around the community until its light fills the room.

Then, a song of exultation is sung, proclaiming that Christ is the light of this night. And, there, in the light of Christ, we will read the scriptures that prepare us to celebrate God’s revelation.

This is the story of our salvation – how God prepared to rescue us from the power of sin and death. The God who created us, who led a chosen people out of slavery, raised Jesus from death.

We can rejoice that death has no final victory over us. We can celebrate our faith that we have been baptized into the death of Jesus, so that we might be baptized into his life.

As we behold the body of Jesus in the tomb today, and as we contemplate the mystery of our death, we prepare our hearts to receive the Good News of life.

We know that tomb will be empty and remain empty forever as a sign that our lives will not really end, but only be transformed.

One day, we will all rest in the embrace of Jesus, who knows our death, and who prepares a place for us in everlasting life.

Our reflection on this holy Saturday, and our anticipation of celebrating the gift of life tonight and tomorrow, can bring immense peace and joy, powerful freedom and vitality to our lives.

For if we truly believe that death holds no true power over us, we can walk each day in the grace being offered us – to give our lives away in love.