Monday, May 5, 2014

Soli Deo

Sunday, 4 May 2014,

St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish,

Third Week of Easter, Kharkiv

Acts 2:14,22-33
Domine, notas mihi facies vias vitae
1 Peter 1:17-21
Domine Iesu, aperi nobis Scripturas; fac cor nostrum ardens dum loqueris nobis.
Lk 24:13-35

          The Third Sunday of Easter finds us once again thoroughly caught up in God, as we contemplate the appearance of Jesus, risen from the dead, to two of His disciples along the road from Jerusalem to a small village named Emmaus.
They had walked a goodly distance with Jesus and they had a very animated, heart to heart conversation with Him about the truth of the Gospel and all that had happened concerning Jesus. Even so they didn’t recognize Him until they sat at table and He said the blessing and broke the bread. Then He disappeared from their sight and they went running back to the group of disciples in Jerusalem to share their experience. They were met with the excited news that the Risen One had appeared to Simon Peter as well.
          Easter is clearly and simply about life and power; it is about our redemption “not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” Easter finds us where we are supposed to be in life: face to face with Jesus, conversing and debating with Him. Easter is an annual feast; we celebrate it every year around this time. I guess we need that reminder, time and again, that the good news of the victory of Jesus, True God and True Man, over sin and death is all that really matters in our world.
          I have to say it out loud and speak it clearly: NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. I guess I say it and maybe don’t really grasp what I am saying; I’m kind of like those two disciples who hadn’t missed a moment in all that had gone on in Jerusalem. Despite their being right on top of the situation, there were there for the Last Supper, for Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, for that mockery of justice which handed Him over for torture and death upon the Cross, for His burial and for the first announcement of the empty tomb. With all of that, not only did they miss the point in terms of the fulfilment of all that had been foretold in the Scriptures, but they could not even recognize Jesus Himself right in front of them, there conversing and discussing with them, that is, not until He blessed and broke bread with them.
          With all the worries and trials people face these days, especially here in Ukraine, I guess it is hard to get us to sit down and recognize Jesus as the one and only one who matters in our lives. Even so, that is what we need to do and for a great many reasons. Nothing else but Jesus and His Resurrection really matters. Without Him, well, I’m trapped in the here and now, in the sad logic of trying to get ahead only so that I can die, the sad logic condemned by the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament as vanity. Nothing else but Jesus and His Resurrection really matters. If I believe that, it has moral consequences for how I must lead my life, yes, most surely. More importantly, however, it means I know where real and lasting joy is to be found. It could very well mean that all those around me are living only for this moment and they are attempting to pull me every which way, not for my sake, but for theirs.
          I know better. You, as a baptized Christian, know better. Nothing else but Jesus and His Resurrection really matters. I cannot help but think of another passage from the Acts of the Apostles and of the two disciples confronted with a beggar at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple: he expected money and in the Name of Jesus they cured him. Totally free and freeing, theirs was a message too good to be true.

          Day in and day out, we have our duties which correspond to our state in life. Our life and its importance before God go way beyond the every day however. Nothing but Jesus and His Resurrection really matters. Rejoice in the Risen Lord this Sunday, keep Him in your heart all week long, be on fire with Him, His love and His power!

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