10 April 2012
"The World Misses this Newness": The True Renewal of Easter
Happy Easter Tuesday! For those who missed the magnificent Mass at the Oratory, here is the Easter sermon of Canon Michael Wiener:
Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum, Alleluia
I arose, and am still with Thee, Alleluia. – The words of the introit express the very specific and unique character of the joy of Easter. As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. pointed out, “the liturgy sees these as the first words spoken by the Son to the Father after his resurrection, after his return from the night of death into the world of the living.”
These words of the introit are taken from Psalm 139: “If I ascend into heaven, you are there: if I descend into hell, you are present. If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: Even there also shall your hand lead me: and your right hand shall hold me.”
The Church knows that the Savior spoke to us from the beginning and that all that happened in the history of salvation was foretold by the patriarchs and the prophets.
On Passion Sunday Jesus told the Jews who accused Him of blasphemy: “Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see this day: he saw it and was glad.”
Christ Jesus was always one with God: His death as man did not affect the unique closeness and unity between Him and the Eternal Father. The unity between God the Father and His Son never ceased. Through the Incarnation - the union between divine and human nature in Christ’s divine person - the Son of man did rise from the dead after His shameful death on the Cross.
The resurrection of Christ - through the reanimation of the body in the tomb by the soul of Christ on the morning of the third day after His death - is the confirmation that God has given us the newness of life forever. The liturgy celebrates this newness of life with visible signs:
A new spark of light did light the Easter candle, fresh water was blessed in the baptismal font as the source of true and eternal life, and all hosts in the tabernacle of the main altar were only consecrated last night. The Church, Christ Himself, makes all things new on the day of the Resurrection. Divine grace makes things continuously new.
The world misses this newness, this freshness and rekindling of new life, but talks always continuously about new things, change and reform. Despite all talk about reform, change and new things only one source of true renewal continues to be visible among us:
The Catholic Church celebrates the mysteries of our redemption in the liturgy throughout all centuries since Christ died for us on the Cross. Substantially unchanged but continuously offering her children the hands of a mother who gives life, nourishment and guidance, the Church alone is rooted in the timelessness of supernatural life.
The pledge and seal of this newness of life in the Church is the resurrection of Christ: “The Catholic Church has survived one hundred crucifixions by one hundred resurrections” (Msgr. R. Knox). The vitality of the Church is visible at all times, but more so and especially today, on this glorious day of Easter.
Before Pontius Pilate had given into the demands of the crowd, he made a politically smart and unexpected gesture: He sent Jesus to Antipas, called Herod, the son of Herod the Great, a sign that he wanted to respect Herod’s jurisdiction. “And Herod and Pilate were made friends, that same day: for before they were enemies one to another.” The political maneuvering of Pilate did not bear good fruits, nor lasting ones: Pilate was recalled to Rome in shame, and within thirty years the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.
On March 27, 2012 Archbishop Carlson said in Jefferson City on the occasion of the Rally for Religious Liberty:
“I am convinced that taking up the cross is the way to life. I am convinced that ‘before the cross there is no defense.’ I am convinced that Jesus won victory on the cross, and that he will win victory in us if we take up our cross and follow him.
Will you stand with me and say: Mr. President, we cannot comply with this Mandate. We WILL render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar; but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God.”
That which belongs to Caesar passes away; that which belongs to God never will. The strength of the Church is our strength if we faithfully participate in her life – that is in the life of Our Lord, Risen from the dead.
In participating in the divine life, the Church offers, we can find the strength and power to renew our lives. If we catch the hour of grace of this blessed Easter and make it our own, we will be able to enjoy a new spring and a new and real renovation of our natures.
Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum, Alleluia