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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Easter - Newness of Life

May you have a Blessed Easter in receiving the “newness of life”

             On this Easter Sunday, as we celebrate Jesus Christ’s rising from the dead, I wish to extend to all the hope for the greatest Easter blessings in your lives. I welcome all those who are visitors to St. Benedict’s this weekend, hoping that your time in our community, with families or friends as it may be, will bring you great joy. May we all know Jesus Christ’s risen life in our own lives more perfectly today and every day.

          In celebrating this Easter Sunday, might we reflect on St. Paul’s words to the Romans (proclaimed at the Easter Vigil Mass), “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in the newness of life.” Paul’s words capture well the effect of the great gift and mystery of Christ’s resurrection, pointing to our benefit from this great event that changed human history forever: that by his death and resurrection we are able to live a new life through our baptism into Christ. Hence, a central part of our celebration of Easter, that we experience in the Easter Vigil Mass and on Easter Sunday morning Mass, is the renewal of our baptismal promises, that we may be renewed once more in this newness of life.

             From the perspective of God’s saving works, such an invitation to “newness of life” begins with the reality of death – and how Jesus Christ accepted and truly
embraced death as the way to bring about life. (This is an example of what we call “paradox;” that is, two realities that appear contradictory but are both true). Our
purpose today, of course, is not to dwell upon death. Rather, we acknowledge that by the death of Christ and His resurrection on the third day, He forever destroyed the power of death – as Paul says in the same reading from Romans, “Death no longer has power over Him.” It is only when we consider the whole reality of death leading to resurrection that you and I can understand what this newness of life truly means.

           Accordingly, St. Paul says that, “You, too, must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” As we renew our baptismal promises, we make a renewed commitment to Christ, stating that we reject sin, the glamor of evil, and Satan. In these promises, we “die” to sin, rooting it up from our lives, and casting it out with the help of God’s grace that we might live only in God’s way. Even more simply, we firmly commit to no longer sinning, living the truth of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Thus, today’s blessing of “newness of life” is both a gift in itself (of new life from God) and one that is received by us only when we accept it in faith and
respond to the grace that is offered to us.
New life in Christ is a relational reality, where God offers us life through baptism and we accept that life, saying “yes” to Him and His offer of grace, committing ourselves to remain firm in that life of God.

          Thus, as I wish you all Easter Blessings, know that I am doing so with the hope that you not only acknowledge what Christ has done for us – but that the true
blessings will be known by your responding to His invitation to live a new life, without the old ways of sin. May today be a new beginning for all, that the Risen Christ may reign in us today and forever.

 

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