Learn how to live the paschal mysteries with Jesus

| Bishop Andrew Cozzens | March 17, 2016

BishopCozzensWe are approaching the holiest time of our Church year in the celebration of Easter. Through the celebration of the sacred Triduum we will be invited to enter with Jesus into the mystery of his death and resurrection. The liturgies of the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday are the three holiest liturgies of the year. The whole Church is invited to make those three days a kind of sacred retreat where we prayerfully meditate in our hearts on all that the Lord Jesus did for our salvation.

These liturgies commemorate what we call the paschal mystery, which comes from the word Passover. Just as the Jewish people were saved from slavery in Egypt by the Passover, we are delivered from slavery to our sins and receive the gift today of new life, eternal life, through the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ. He died on the cross to end sin, and we receive the fruits of his death, without having to die, through baptism and the other sacraments, especially the Eucharist, where we eat and drink of the body and blood of our Passover lamb. What could be more important to commemorate than this central mystery of our faith?

But the Easter Triduum does even more. These three days of prayer are not just a way to remember what Jesus did a long time ago. We are meant to learn how to live these mysteries with Jesus, or rather we are invited to learn how to let Jesus live his suffering, death and resurrection in us. Through baptism, Jesus has incorporated us into himself, and through the Eucharist he strengthens us to live as his body, and he wants to continue to redeem the world through us. He wants to love the world through us. He wants us to recognize, as St. Paul did, that in every suffering we endure and every act of mercy we perform, we are making his death and resurrection present, and he is once again saving the world in our lives. St. Paul makes this clear in 2 Cor 4:7-12: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” St. Paul realizes that his struggles are not just his, but rather since Jesus is living in him, his struggles are also united to Jesus in some mysterious way, so that his daily dying and rising is actually “the life of Jesus manifested” in his body, and it is bringing life to the whole body of Christ.

These three days of the sacred Triduum are meant to be a school for us to learn to live with Jesus in the suffering, death and resurrection of our own lives. When I am perplexed, when I feel forsaken, when I feel crushed, this is not a time for despair. Rather, if I learn to bring these struggles to Jesus Christ, then I will see that he is living his paschal mystery in me. I will see the central truth of Christianity: that there is nothing so evil that it cannot be taken up by God and made into a potential good. The liturgies from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday want to teach you how to do this — how to learn to see your own life in light of Christ’s paschal mystery. This is so important because it frees us from self-absorption and allows us to experience the happiness of making a gift of our lives. Our sufferings, however small or great, tempt us to turn in to ourselves. When we learn to see our struggles, as St. Paul did, as Jesus living out his paschal mystery in me, it can bring meaning to our suffering, which allows us to turn struggle into love.

The paschal mystery is a way of life, a way that leads to the new life of Easter. Let us pray that this might be true for each of us and for our whole archdiocese, that in learning to unite our suffering with Christ we might learn the true love that Jesus shows us, and receive the gift of the new life this Easter.

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Category: Only Jesus

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