Thursday November 21, 2019
6:34 am
Bishop Hying

Through power of the resurrection, God crushes power of evil and ‘sin’s ancient curse’

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on April 1, 2018

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

      Chapter 20 of John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus suddenly appeared on Easter Sunday night to the Apostles behind their locked doors of fear and confusion. He couldn’t wait to come back from the dead and share the joy and victory of his triumph over sin and death with his best friends, even though almost all of them had run away from the cross. Breaking through the barrier of the locked door must have been easy for Jesus compared to the cosmic task of crushing the power of evil and smashing down sin’s ancient curse.

      In that Upper Room, Jesus wished the Apostles peace, he breathed the Holy Spirit on them and he empowered them to proclaim the forgiveness of sins in his name to all the people. In the resurrection of his Son, God subverts the old patterns of selfishness, violence and hatred, reestablishing the order of the Kingdom - mercy, justice, forgiveness, service, love, truth and joy. In the astonishment of Easter, those first followers of Christ finally come to understand his identity, mission and message, all filtered through the mysterious lens of the Passion and cross.

      Precisely in its shame and horror, the crucifixion of the Son of God becomes our means of salvation only because of Easter. If Jesus had not risen from the tomb, his death would simply be a meaningless, tragic end of a good man’s best intentions.  

      As Saint Paul reminds us, if Jesus has not been raised, we are still in our sins and are the most pitiable of people. By letting sin and death kill him in the flesh, God swallows up these malignant powers and disarms them on Easter morning. Through the risen Christ, we have a clear path of salvation marked out for us through the shadows and dangers of this difficult life, as the Good Shepherd leads us to rich pastures and refreshing streams of love and peace.

      I just saw the new movie on the life of Saint Paul. I highly encourage you to go see it soon because it probably will not be in the theaters for very long. The film depicts Paul in prison in Rome at the end of his life, as Luke seeks to capture his remarkable story of apostolic witness on papyrus, a narrative that becomes the Acts of the Apostles in the Scriptures.  

      The Prefect of the prison where Paul is held is intrigued and puzzled by, drawn to and afraid of his mysterious prisoner. Toward the end of the film, the Prefect is hovering on the verge of believing in Christ and surrendering to faith, but fearfully holds himself back. At that moment, Paul says to him, “I pray that one day your heart will be shattered and you will discover that you are completely known and completely loved by God. That will change everything.”

      As the implementation of our synod continues this year in our parishes, as we seek renewal in the risen Christ, as we celebrate the glorious season of Easter, I pray that each one of us will experience what Paul prayed for in the life of the Roman official - a shattered heart, a deep awareness of God’s love, an experience of the risen Lord who breaks through every barrier of doubt, sin, grief, selfishness and cynicism that we have thrown up to keep his revolutionary mercy at a safe distance.  

      May you feel the power of the resurrection in your life so profoundly that it changes everything!

      Prayers, blessings and peace to you in this season of victory and grace! Thank you for your witness to the risen Christ!

 

       + Donald J. Hying

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