And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so is your faith. 1Corinthians 15:14There is no truth greater than the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If the Resurrection is only a myth, so is the whole story of Jesus and so is Christianity. We are still lost in our sins, and every tenet of the faith is nothing but a farce. But then who can provide a forceful explanation for the witness of the empty tomb, the linen cloths carefully folded away, the sudden transformation of the terrified disciples into courageous and joyful witnesses? There can be only one possible answer: Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead, as He had said He would, and has empowered his disciples to continue His salvific mission, even till this very day!
“Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Luke 1:45Today, a sole light lit up the entire world with it’s brightness. As He gazed on the world, the Heavenly Father saw the serene light of faith still shining brightly in a soul He loved. Full of faith in Her Divine Son’s words, Mary looked expectantly to the fulfilment of the Promise that Her Son would rise again on the third day, when everyone else relapsed into the sleep of unbelief. O Virgin most faithful, intercede for us your children!
“When they reached the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him and the two criminals, one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’ Then they cast lots to share out His clothing.” Lk 23:33-34What tremendous love Jesus must have for a world of ungrateful and wicked sinners to willingly and silently bear the pain of the crucifixion from them - the power of love which seethed out from every fibre of his heart, soul and body to seek and reach out towards every human being who lay lost in the mire of forgetfulness of God, pride, bitterness, despair and other sins! He completes His Sacrifice by offering up prayers before God for His crucifiers. Let us realise that each time we commit a mortal sin, we take the place of Christ’s executioners and are crucifying Him again within our souls.
“And after he had given thanks, he broke it, and he said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' And in the same way, with the cup after supper...” 1 Cor 11:24-25Giving thanks to the Father, the Son takes a loaf of bread and makes It His Body. He takes a cup of wine and makes It His Blood. He then commands His Apostles to repeat these mysterious words in His memory. Thus we have in our midst today the living memorial of His Presence amongst us - the Body and Blood of the Son of God, which He gives us daily as food and drink that imparts everlasting life to those who believe.
“Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven..” Matthew 5:11-12Jesus tells us three things in the above verses: the first, that we should resolutely stand for Him, the second that we should be prepared to hear all kinds of calumny spoken against us, and the third that we greatly rejoice because our reward is assured. We are indeed on the right track if we have to suffer because we stand for Jesus.
“He was bearing our sins in His own body on the Cross, so that we might die to our sins and live for uprightness; through His bruises you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:25When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, the first sacrifice was also made to make clothes of skin to cover their nakedness. For those who turn to Him, the Lord covers the nakedness caused by their sins with dazzling garments of righteousness. These garments are made from the Lamb of God, His Son Jesus Christ.
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.”Luke 1:35God chose the lowliest of all maidens to receive the greatest revelation He could ever give to humanity - the revelation of His Son, the mystery which as Saint Paul describes, He had kept hidden within Himself for many generations, and now had chosen to reveal to humanity. The Virgin believed and gave Her assent to God’s revelation and behold, the Word - the Son of God, became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
“Each one should give as much as he has decided on his own initiative, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7God has given us everything we have. Some may offer back to God part of their wealth or their possessions. The saints, on the other hand, give us an example in giving back everything to God, including their own lives and all their freedom - so that God free to do as He pleases in their lives, without complaint. Let us imitate them by being joyful in our offerings, because God loves those who offer their gifts to him with a smile that comes from deep within their generous and joyful heart.
“He was bearing our sins in His own body on the Cross, so that we might die to our sins and live for uprightness; through His bruises you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:25Every one of us has wounds within our inner selves. The more deeper and serious of these wounds are those caused by our sins. Such wounds make us feel disturbed, depressed, sad, dejected, lonely and uneasy. But let us never become discouraged - Jesus has carried all our sins in His own body on the Cross - so that we would die to our sins and live for uprightness. Therefore, let us come with hope into the presence of the Divine Saviour in the Blessed Sacrament, let us disclose all our wounds in His Presence. He will treat them, dress them and clothe our naked souls so that we will be completely healed.
“I was resolved that the only knowledge I would have... was knowledge of Jesus, and of Him as the Crucified Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:2Knowledge is something everyone likes to have, because knowledge makes one powerful. People like to boast and show off their knowledge in various fields and domains. Before his conversion, Saint Paul, the Apostle of Divine Wisdom, was no different. He was a master of the Law and a very knowledgeable man, and prided himself on it. But once he met the Lord Jesus Christ, he realised that all his former knowledge was but a grain of sand, a drop of water beside the vast and eternal ocean of Divine Wisdom, presented to humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Crucified and Risen Saviour of the whole human race. But there is a condition to receive the knowledge of Jesus - all those who wish to know Jesus must make a resolve: a resolve to know only about Jesus, and of Him as the Crucified Christ.
“A hard lot has been created for human beings, a heavy yoke lies on the children of Adam from the day they come out of their mother’s womb, till the day they return to the mother of them all.” Sirach 40:1After the sin of our first parents, God has laid on all of humanity the yoke of earning their daily bread by the sweat of their brow. This heavy yoke however is made light in Christ when we accept this yoke in a spirit of penance, and in reparation for our sins. Rebelling against this yoke or trying to throw it off is of no use, we would only be getting in the way of our own sanctification.
“But in so far as you share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, so that you may enjoy a much greater gladness when His glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13To share in the sufferings of Christ is a great privilege. How can we share in the sufferings of Christ? It is by following Christ who even today carries His Cross and goes in front of us. We are given a place with Jesus on the road to Calvary when we accept sufferings joyously for doing the Will of God.
“Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally.” Matthew 1:19Saint Joseph is called the upright in the Bible - but his uprightness far surpassed that of the Law. From the depths of his upright soul came his altogether noble and praiseworthy action, that of deciding to silently take leave of Mary his betrothed rather than exposing her to disgrace. God who rewards good deeds done in secret and in silence, was swift to intervene and give him a reward beyond compare - His Only Begotten Son.
“For if this is what is done to green wood, what will be done when the wood is dry?’ Luke 23:31Green wood is a sign of Divine Life. The unjust sufferings that the Lord had to undergo are compared to green wood which is treated harshly. If this is so, how much more suffering will there be in store for dry wood, which symbolises those who refuse to repent. The Lord also wanted to tell the world that the sufferings of the upright are much less in comparison with the sufferings of sinners.
“... Jesus, knowing that His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father, having loved those who were His in the world, loved them to the end.” John 13:1Among the people whom we know, we label many as “friends” or “loved ones”, but can we be absolutely sure that they will love us till the end? Sooner or later, we will realise that there is only one ever-loving and ever-faithful friend: Jesus our Lord, who loves us in all circumstances - while we are awake or asleep, in sickness or health, whether we are upright or sinners. Even when our dearest friend may get fed up with us and leave us, Jesus still continues to love us. Realising His great love, let us try to love our Lord in return, more and more each day.
“This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: He Himself bore our sicknesses away and carried our diseases.” Matthew 8:17Unlike other human beings, Jesus came into this world with a very specific mission: all human beings are born to live; but Jesus was born to die. All human beings long to be healthy, but He longs to carry our sicknesses. He is truly the Healer of the whole of humanity, the Divine Doctor to Whom all those afflicted by sin and sickness must go to be healed. The medicine He offers is all powerful - it is His Flesh that He offers for the life of the world.
“I was resolved that the only knowledge I would have... was knowledge of Jesus, and of Him as the Crucified Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:2Everyone is thirsting for knowledge, and so we find ourselves spending endless time and effort trying to become learned in this world. But how will this thirst ever be satisfied? Saint Paul, the Apostle of great wisdom, reveals that the only true and worthwhile knowledge is that of Jesus. May we also come to realise this truth, and so resolve to know only about the Crucified Christ - He will teach us everything that we need to gain eternal life.
“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, Who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which lay ahead of Him, He endured the Cross, disregarding the shame of it...” Hebrews 12:2Do we often feel overwhelmed by our daily trials? Are we tempted to run away from our present sufferings? Look at Jesus on the Cross - just one glance with faith is enough. How much Our Lord loves us! In perfect humility, He bears all our pains and sorrows on the Cross. So, with renewed faith, let us fix our eyes on the Crucified Christ, who will give us the grace to endure all suffering.
“If the world hates you, you must realize that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18Jesus came into the world as the true light, and yet many hated Him - they preferred darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. We, too, when we try to live in devotion to Christ, will certainly have hardship - people may hate us and speak all kinds of calumny against us falsely - but let us not be discouraged! May we instead realise the fact that “our enemies are our benefactors” - they give us the opportunity to suffer for Christ, by which we gain a great reward in heaven.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:10Our Lord suffered in the cause of uprightness and left an example for us to follow. Saint Peter explains that Christ was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when He was suffering He made no threats but put His trust in the upright judge. He was bearing our sins on the cross, so that we might die to our sins and live for uprightness. So let us rejoice when we are persecuted for doing what is right because our reward will be great in heaven.