In the beginning God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. From the beginning man is dependent on his Creator and subject to the laws of creation and of morality that govern the use of his freedom.
But man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s commands. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.
And in God’s plan suffering was not created for man. But when man had sinned, when the divine plan formed by Infinite Love for His beloved creature had been upset and ruined, then suffering burst its banks and rushed upon humanity like a devastating torrent.
Man then began to suffer in every part of his being. He suffered in his body; work and its fatigue, extremes of climates, troubles of sickness, accidents of fortune.
He suffers in his heart. Its delicate and melodious cords are broken in turn by the shock of ingratitude, hatred and abandonment, by the separations caused by death, by sorrowful deceptions and bitterness of illusions.
He suffers also in his soul. Sin, by casting its shadow upon it and paralyzing the outbursts of its enthusiasm, gave entrance to sorrow. The intellect of man suffers from its powerlessness to know and penetrate mysteries of which it gets a glimpse. His memory suffers by the remembrance of past sorrows or lost joys, His will suffers from its revolt, its uncertainties. Man suffers in his imagination by the uncertainty of the future.
In the end man suffers in his whole being and at every period of his life.
So do we give up happiness?
Seeing this series of the sufferings, we are asking the question. Why God who is all-powerful love and mercy, did not prevent the first man from sinning?
This is the mystery. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man we can find the solution.
God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. This St. Paul says, where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, and the Exultet in the Easter Vigil sings, O happy fault, which gained for us so great a Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
So we can find the key to solve this crushing question of the suffering only in the suffering of Jesus Christ who is only begotten and beloved son of God the Father.
This St. Paul says, “But we preach Christ Crucified. Unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block and unto the Gentiles foolishness”.
During the last years of His life on earth, Jesus will appear to us always and at the same time both Priest and Victim. He is Priest when we see Him prostrated in the Garden, or on the summit of the mountain, prolonging His prayer, with His hands raised to Heaven, interceding with His heavenly Father for fallen humanity. He is Priest in His zealous preaching, in His patient teaching, in the consolation which He pours out here below. He is Priest especially when He offers sacrifice, when, to the glory of His Father, and for the salvation of man, He immolates His sacred flesh by the manifold sufferings He endured up to the very hour of the sacrifice of the Cross.
Jesus, suspended on the Cross, remains there Priest and Victim. Priest, because it is He who immolates Himself voluntarily in the full possession of His Will.
Had He not replied to Pilate a few hours before, “Thou shouldst not have any power over Me, unless it were given to you from above? Will He not say in the midst of the unutterable sorrows of His death agony, Father, into Thy hands I recommend my spirit.
Indeed it is consummated. Jesus Christ, Priest, has immolated Himself as Victim.
By His death on the Cross Heaven and Earth are now reconciled. God has pardoned the iniquity of man. By this bloody sacrifice, Jesus Christ has rendered magnificent praise to Infinite Goodness by offering the greatest homage of adoration which It can receive. He has rendered thanks to the heavenly Father for all the gifts poured out in divine liberality on the entire creation. He has appeased divine Justice, which the sins of man had provoked and which demanded complete satisfaction, He has obtained all the favors, all the helps and all the pardon of which our poor human nature has need.
Jesus is good and merciful. We should not be afraid of his gaze.
O Jesus, Grant that while we trace this path of sighs and tears, our hearts may be touched with contrition and repentance, that we may be ready to embrace with joy all the crosses, sufferings and humiliations of this our life and pilgrimage.
Blessed and Holy Easter, Dear Faithful!
This is the day which the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice therein. Because it is the day when Christ, Our Pasch has been sacrificed and He is risen.
Christmas, too, is a joyous feast. Christmas vibrates with a characteristic note of sweetness, but the Paschal solemnity resounds with an unmistakable note of triumph. It is a joy for the triumph of Christ.
Christ’s death was not a defeat but a victory. It was the greatest victory that the world ever has ever witnessed, the victory over sin, the victory over death, which is the consequence of sin, the victory which restored to man the life of grace.
In offering us the Cross for adoration on Friday, the church sings, Behold the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.
The supreme paradox of death and life reach a unity in Jesus.
Jesus accomplished the greatest work that he had ever done, either in miracles or in mighty works during the whole of His Life, which was the reconciliation and union of mankind with God. Our joy is founded upon this truth.
In this world there are many kinds of joys often based on fragile and insecure foundations.
But the Paschal joy is solidly grounded on the knowledge that we are in the truth, the truth which Christ brought to the world and which He confirmed by His Resurrection. The resurrection tells us that our faith is not in vain, that our hope is not founded on a dead man, but on a living one, whose life is so strong that it vivifies in time as in eternity.
Jesus said to all those who believes in Him. I am the Resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live.
For every man, the beginning of life is when Christ was immolated for him. However, Christ is immolated for him at the moment he recognizes the grace and becomes conscious of the life for him by that immolation.
St. Hilary, converted to Christianity as an adult, looking back on his past life, said. “Before meeting you, I did not exist.”
What is required is only that we do not hide from the presence of God, as Adam and Eve did after their sin, that we recognize our need to be justified. The publican of the parable came to the temple and made a short prayer. “O God, have mercy on me a sinner”. And Jesus says that the man returned to his home “justified”, that is, made right before him, forgiven, made a new creature. What had he done that was so extraordinary? Nothing, he had put himself in the truth before God, and it is the only thing that God needs in order to act. (From the homily of Father Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. on Good Friday, 29 March 2013)
We can be sincere and in truth only when we recognize ourselves for what we are, with all our faults, deficiencies and need for conversion. And from this knowledge of ourselves springs the sincere resolves to purify ourselves of the ole leaven of disordered passions in order to be renewed completely in risen Christ.
When we rejoice in Jesus’s Resurrection we also celebrate Christ’s gift of Himself, which transforms us and enables us to become a gift of our self to other.
Today’s Postcommunion prayer says, “Pour forth upon us, O Lord, the spirit of Thy Love to make us of one heart”. Without unity and mutual charity there can be no real Paschal joy.
Every year Easter comes back but every year Easter must mark a time of renewal in our spiritual life, in our search for God, in our love for God and in our love for our neighbors.
So dear faithful, let us renew our love for Jesus so that we can continue our path with Him in the newness of life.