“Christ has risen!”
“He has risen indeed, Alleluia!”
If you were to walk the streets of Jerusalem during the Easter season, you might hear Christians greet each other with the salutation above, as if this were a current event; and indeed, it is. Yes, Jesus rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, but his Resurrection is made present to us who believe. Jesus suffered his Passion 2,000 years ago, and yet he still suffers in his mystical body when we unite our suffering with his. The Church makes salvation history present to us in many ways.
During a baptismal liturgy, the minister says, “We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the water of this baptismal font. May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with him to newness of life. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” The dying and rising is in the present moment during the sacrament of baptism. The death of sin is conquered as the soul is freed from original sin and given new life.
Similarly, when someone receives the sacrament of reconciliation, Jesus Christ, through his minister the priest, restores the soul from the death of sin to a new life of grace and renews its intimacy with God.
During Mass, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are made present to us in the Scriptures and the prayers of the liturgy, we all become one and bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
All of the sacraments offer us this new life in Christ, if that is the desire of our hearts. As powerful as the sacraments are, they have no effect in us unless we are properly disposed and prepared. Even the infant that is baptized, at some point must choose to be a faithful follower of Christ.
The good news is, God has made it possible for every person to live in intimacy with him and always be filled with hope and peace. He is patient for our salvation, but the longer we wait to turn to him, the more opportunities we have for making serious mistakes. Forty years ago God gave me the grace to see my life was headed in the wrong direction. I am sure that was the consequence of a lot of prayer from my mother in heaven, who was able to do more for me after she passed from this life. I began the process of conversion that leaves me filled with purpose and hope.
This is the bottom line. If we are willing, in humility, to recognize we need God and that we must be faithful to what he has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures, the new life he promises is ours, and we don’t have to wait for Easter to say, “He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”
Deacon Tom Fox is co-director of the Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is the Pilgrim Center of Hope’s regular column in Today’s Catholic newspaper.