Ground, stomped and pressed into glory

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | April 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

In the 50 days of the Easter season, all seven sacraments of the Church are celebrated.

Baptisms and confirmations, first confessions and first Communions, marriages and ordinations. These opportunities to encounter the person and real presence of Jesus Christ are at the heart of our Catholic tradition and spiritual lives.

Father Charles Lachowitzer

Father Charles Lachowitzer

Nonetheless, as imperfect people in an imperfect world, the consequences of original sin and our mortal nature cast a shadow on the light of the risen Christ. The realities of sin, suffering and death know not our seasons, and rain on every parade. In the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, we are consoled that God’s Easter promise is fulfilled in the merciful balm of Jesus.

Each of us is gifted with the garden of the soul. It is fertile ground indeed and bears much fruit. In the early Church, an image was used to acknowledge the outpouring of grace in lives facing many challenges. Catechumens were seen as the harvest — grains of precious wheat. The persecutions in the early Church were seen as the grinding of this grain into a fine flour. To this flour were added the waters of baptism, the oil of anointing, the leaven of the Gospel and a dash of salt for preservation. Through the fire of the Holy Spirit, this is the recipe for the bread of life come down from heaven.

Whether we are gatherers in the wheat field, laborers in the vineyard or workers in the olive orchards, it is still the reality of our world that we know many challenges in the life of faith. The persecutions of Christians continue throughout much of the world. Even in America, where we are free to practice our own religion, the persecution of the Christian faith can be a subtle, but no less real, part of life.

Therefore, if we are feeling pulverized, then let us be a fine flour transformed into the very body of Christ as bread for the world. If we are feeling knocked down and stomped on, then let us be like grapes. Just add the sweetness of prayer and the leaven of the Gospel (and aging helps, too) to be a fine wine, transformed into the blood of Christ poured into the chalice of our salvation. If we are feeling the pressures of complicated lives and the weight of too many responsibilities, then let us be like olives, pressed into a pure oil. Through the workings of the Holy Spirit, we are anointed with the oil of gladness and become the oil of anointing.

In each and every way, the ever-present realities of sin, suffering and death come into our lives and into our world, God has given us the example of Jesus Christ — the first fruit of creation — who himself was persecuted and tortured, and who suffered and died. Yet in his resurrection, we have the atonement for sins, redemption through suffering and the way to eternal life.

The most effective witnesses to the Gospel and to the truths of our faith are not those whose lives look perfect. Rather, the most effective witnesses are those whose lives are not perfect, those who personally know the trials and travesties of life and yet persevere in a joyful spirit. In Christ, we are given the grace of the sacraments so that as we go through the worst things in life, they only serve to bring out the best in us.

Is it no wonder then, that the celebrations of the Easter season include bread, wine and oil?

Solamente Jesus

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Category: Only Jesus