Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dying and Rising with Christ

MARCH 31, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

Last Palm Sunday, we heard the passion narrative of St. Mark. We saw how our Lord was left alone by his disciples who betrayed, abandoned, and denied him during that moment when darkness reigned supreme. There was one detail of the narrative that is found only in the Gospel according to Mark: it is the detail of a young man who followed Jesus in the garden. He had nothing on but a loin cloth. During the commotion at the arrest of the Lord, some men tried to catch also the young man by holding on to his loincloth. He escaped naked, leaving behind his garment.
This mysterious young man is the symbol of the catechumens who have been preparing themselves for baptism by studying the Sacred Scriptures and by learning the teachings of the Lord. Like every human being born of Adam and Eve, these catechumens are born in the misery of the human nature we have inherited from them. “All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” After their fall into sin, our first parents realized that they were naked and so they hid themselves in shame. As our first parents, stripped of sanctifying grace, were driven out of the garden of Eden, so also the young man ran away naked from the garden.

Today, when the sun had risen, the women entered the tomb and there the young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe. They saw him in the tomb because the catechumen was baptized and as St. Paul said: “we who were baptized into his death. We were indeed buried with him through baptism into his death.” As Christ was buried in the tomb, every catechumen, at his baptism, is buried together with Jesus. As Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also live in newness of life. And so, the neophyte is no longer naked but now clothed in a white robe. The white robe is the sign of belonging to heaven. At the transfiguration, the Lord was clothed in dazzling white because he is the Son of Man who came down from heaven. The baptismal garment is white because the one who was baptized no longer belongs to the world. He now belongs to heaven where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. Baptism consecrates us to God. We belong no longer to this earth. We belong to heaven.

And the newly baptized man became the bearer of the Good News of the Resurrection: “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him.” As Christ was sent to bring the Gospel to the poor, so also every baptized Christian is sent by Christ “to bring the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” The newly baptized Christian becomes a herald of reconciliation to all of us who have fallen from our fidelity to the Lord…to all of us who have denied, abandoned, and betrayed him. He tells us: Go and tell his disciples and Peter: He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him as he told you.” He goes before us to Galilee, to where the disciples first met and were called by Jesus. He goes before us to Galilee where we first met him. Is it not true that when an intimate relationship is strained and broken, we go to the place of the first meeting in the hope that we would find our lost loved one there? There, broken relationships are mended and so is found the chance to start all over again. He goes before us to Galilee so that we may start following again.

After the baptism of our three catechumens, we shall all renew our baptismal promises. Having confessed our failures and sins, we again profess the faith of our baptism. Through baptism, our catechumens will enter the tomb and be buried together with Christ. They shall be clothed with the graces of the Holy Spirit. Clothed in white, they will tell us to go to Galilee and there meet the Risen Jesus who goes before us. He will not shame us nor reprimand us for our betrayals, abandonments, and denials. Rather, he will restore to our repentant hearts the graces of the Holy Spirit. The Lord will make us belong to him once again. He will invite us to rise from where we have fallen and invite us to follow him once more. Let us go to meet him in Galilee with the firm resolve never to betray, nor abandon, nor deny him. We must think of ourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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