and the highs of love

The late Jesuit priest, Father John Kavanaugh, in an Easter Sunday homily once said, “Jesus entered the deeps of death, a plunge he need not have made had he not loved us in our sorry state.”1 How profound the thought of lifeless death, so deep no light should penetrate; so silent, no thought can break the stillness of the void where eons, long past and now forgotten, do forever coldly lie.

From Death Into Life

This was not supposed to be, this endless death, so deeply buried, initiated by so great a sin, self-inflicted.

From nothing, all that is, created but by will alone—all matter: the stars, moons and planets; the sky, earth, and water; all living things: plants, creatures living in the sea and crawling upon the land, and the birds of the air. All was good for all had been created by the One who is all good; the one we rightly call our God. Yet, all that God had made was made not for him, for he had no need of it.

Thus, God created man, “in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ’Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”2 And thus, to man was entrusted all the good which God had made; nothing that was not good had been made, for all which God had made was good.

Man was with God in the garden which God had created just for him; man knew neither sorrow nor pain; he lacked nothing but the good. Given all that was—a gift for him to nurture, name, and affirm—and made in the likeness of God with the ability to reason, to think, and the freedom to choose, man was deprived of nothing.

But man, given all, including the freedom to choose, rejected the goodness of limits. All good things were within their grasp, including the tree of life: beneath its shade they would never know death for they were like unto God himself. Yet, they ate of the tree of limits, for

they wanted more that the power to name all the goods of the earth. They wanted to name evil, to dictate right and wrong. They wanted to control all, even if it meant losing everything they were. In exile, there was left to them either despair or faith in a journey back. But such a journey could be led only by one who knew the way, only by one who could be absolutely trusted, …

Moved by our affliction, the one who first pronounced us good consoles us in prophetic voice. ’With great tenderness I will take you back, … with enduring love I will pity you.’ The covenants of Eden, of Noah, Abraham, and Moses will never be forgotten.

Something new is promised: a water, not of chaos, but of cleansing; a new food of unremitting nourishment; a mercy confounding, lavish in forgiveness; love beyond the grasp of mere human imagination.3

What vivid imagery do we compare: the tree, by which death first came to man has become the means by which death is denied its power. The sin of man washed clean by one who knew no sin.

As the Apostle reminds us:

How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.4

The long dark night of death is coming to an end; new life is rising toward the first twinkling of the dawn as light illuminates the shadows. Night winds sing a final hymn before the dawn rejoices: Alleluia! Love has defeated death, he is reborn, resurrected.

On the eve of life anew, we exult, singing:

Oh truly necessary sin of Adam,
blotted out by the death of Christ!
O blessed fault,
which won so great a redeemer!

What is this we exult, praising sin which is neither good nor blessed? Yet we must rejoice for such sin is what necessitated our redemption; without sin there would have been no reason for the coming of Christ, the Son of God. Of our sin, we are forgiven, in his merciful arms we are comforted, and by his love we are lifted, raised high above the deeps of death to live forever with our God.

We cannot resist singing:

O truly blessed night,
in which earth is wedded to heaven,
and humans to God!

Thus, the dawn of our redemption begins to raise the soul from the deeps of death, the darkness slowly dying by the promise of encroaching light, dispelling all vestiges of death’s dark shadows.

By his death,
Christ became the night;
by his resurrection
Christ becomes the light.

Christ has risen.
Christ will come again.
This we know and believe.
Yet, Christ remains
among us, in us, and with us;
Christ will never leave.

Jesus gave us the Eucharist, the new bread from heaven so that we can be constantly nourished and sustained by his body and blood. Jesus gave us the gift of himself to be our daily bread, a ritual sacrifice which gives us lasting sustenance from God.

Through the Eucharist we are both nourished and nurtured, united in communion with God and neighbor. The Eucharist provides us with a life-sustaining ritual, a unifying ritual where we hear the Word of God and receive the fullness of Christ, our daily bread into our lives and our communities.

Monks have secrets worth knowing. One of these is that a community sustains itself not primarily through novelty, titillation, and high emotion but through rhythm and routine, namely, through simple, predictable, ritual processes. For example, a wise family will say to itself: ’We will all be home at regular times, we will all eat together twice a day, and we will all be together in the living room at least once a day—even if it isn’t exciting, even if real feelings aren’t shared, even if some are bored, and even if some are protesting that this isn’t worthwhile. We will do this because, if we don’t, we will soon fall apart as a family. To stay together we need regular, straight-forward, predictable, daily rituals. We need the manna of daily presence to each other. Otherwise we’ll die.5

The resurrection of our Lord is above all else a time of great joy, for along with Christ, we have been raised up to new life, resurrected from the deeps of death and raised to new highs of love.

Pope Saint John Paul II, on his apostolic journey to the Far East and Oceania, gave an address in Adelaide, Australia in which he is often quoted as saying:

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 neighbor, 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.6

We are indeed an Easter People and Alleluia is our song. Thus, we sing:

Alleluia!

 

Homily #118
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord (A)
Acts 10:34, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-9

 


1 John Kavanaugh, SJ, Easter Sunday Homily: Rising, St. Louis University Center for Sunday Liturgy.
2 Genesis 1:27-28.
3 John Kavanaugh, SJ, Easter Sunday Homily: Rising.
4 Romans 6:2-5.
5 Ron Rolheiser, In Exile: Eucharist as New Manna, St. Louis University Center for Sunday Liturgy.
6 Pope Saint John Paul II, Angelus, November 30, 1986.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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