For 40 days, we have prayed and fasted to prepare us for our celebration of the Sacred Triduum, the last Three Days of Holy Week when we solemnly commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord.. At the beginning of Lent, Pope Benedict invited us to look upon the one who was pierced because of our sins. In contemplating the pierce side of Christ from which blood and water flowed, representing the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, we came to a renewed appreciation of the price that Jesus paid for our salvation. Hopefully, the compunction we felt at seeing what our sins did to Jesus also led us to seek his forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, which is like a second baptism for it restores to the sinner the grace of Divine Life that we received on the day of our baptism. Last weekend, at designated churches throughout our diocese, hundreds of people did just that – they confessed their sins and received absolution from the priests to whom Jesus on that first Easter Sunday gave the power to forgive sins.
On Easter Sunday, the Church invites all her children to unite themselves with their newest brothers and sisters – those who were baptized at the Vigil Mass – and renew their own baptismal vows. For baptism has made us all sharers in the death and resurrection of Jesus – in going down into the baptismal waters, we were buried with Christ and our sins washed away. Through the gift of his Spirit, we were restored to life, new life, and made Sons and Daughters of God, God’s children by adoption, thanks to God’s only Son who deigned to become our brother by becoming a man like us in all things but sin.
By renewing our baptism promises, we not only bring our Lenten Observances to a fitting conclusion but we also remind ourselves that the Faith we profess is both a gift and a task. By faith in the Risen Lord we are saved. This Faith is God’s most gracious gift to us – something which we could never hope to deserve on our own merits. But this gift is also a task. By God’s grace we have been made his children. Now we must become in deed what we are through faith.
For this reason, with the Catechumens inscribed in the Book of the Elect on the First Sunday of Lent and baptized at the Easter Vigil, we are called upon to renounce Satan and all his pomp. We must strive to make our own “election” permanent by turning away from sin – for one cannot find the Living among the dead – and to live as God’s children.
Christ in rising from the dead saves all that is truly human and by the gift of his Spirit makes it possible for us to live no longer for ourselves but for him.
God in Jesus has found us. By his stripes we have been healed. In his death, our death has been destroyed. In his rising, we as members of his body, rise to new life. Our Easter song is a joyful Alleluia!