Reflections for the Week of Sunday April 3, 2016 Second of Easter

Scriptures: Acts 5.27-32; Psalm 118.19-24; Revelation 1.4-8; John 20.19-31.

Acts 5 tells of Peter telling the Sanhedrin that he must obey God, not men, in preaching the gospel. Ps 118 says that the stone the builders rejected [referring to Christ] has become the chief cornerstone [the Messiah]. Rev 1 is the beginning of John’s vision of the Lord coming with the clouds. Jn 20 tells of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to the disciples and to Thomas who recognized Him as his Lord and God.

The Journey to Christ

The Lord is risen! Jesus of Nazareth, is the Messiah, the Word of God incarnate, the Ruler of the Universe, the Second Person of the Trinitarian God who has taken on flesh and has come to bring believers into relation with the Three Persons of God. They are in an eternal dance of love and joy and created man to participate in their spiritual nature (2 Pet 1.4) and share their love and joy. At the transfiguration Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah of His Exodus (Mt 17.1-8). At the Last Supper Jesus spoke of Himself as the Passover Lamb. These texts indicate that Jesus after the Resurrection would lead His people on a new exodus, a pilgrimage, out of the bondage and slavery to sin and death to the freedom and power of becoming like Him. His Spirit within us will help conform us to His likeness (Rm 8.29). Today’s Scriptures give the basis for this journey. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, defies the Sanhedrin to affirm the Lordship of Jesus. Ps 118 refers to an old prophetic sayIng that finds its fulfillment in Jesus that He is the foundation of our faith. Revelation 20 is a vision of Jesus as the Messiah coming in the clouds as in Daniel (Dn 7. 9-14) to rule the world. John 20 is one of the most meaningful resurrection appearances of the Lord to the disciples. In order for us to participate in the New Exodus journey with the Lord, led by the Spirit, we must realize that our ‘old man’, our false self, built on self-centered and false desires must be put to death. The old identity with which we have lived must die. “If anyone seeks to save his life [the old self], he will lose it; but he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt 10.39). The old self has a dark side that needs to be recognized. We are human beings and share in the capacities for evil that we see around us. Acknowledging this gives us humility. We need to recognize that the roles we have in the world are not who we really are. We need to be able to set them aside. They are just roles. The prejudices we have adopted as a result of our family and culture, when they are unjust, need to be identified and set aside. The rights and privileges we demand need to be given over. This is further humiliation that leads to humility. This is what Jesus did in the Passion. He bids us to come and die with Him, and this means our ‘old, false self.’ Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk 9.23). Taking up our cross is to crucify the selfish desires of our false self. Our daily life with its trials and afflictions is to be our divine guide to those elements in ourselves that need to die. If something makes me angry, it often points to something in my false self that needs to be dealt with. Looking at this sinful element with prayer and in terms of God’s Word will act as divine therapy to heal us. As we die to ourselves, Christ fills us and we come to have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2.16; Phil 2.5). This is the journey. The path is hard; the gate is narrow (Mt.7.14), but the goal is worth it (Rm 8.18). It is life. Every humiliation leads to humility and is a step along the path to being conformed to Christ. It reflects the cross we carry and share in the suffering of Christ (Phil 3.8-10).

Memory Verse:   For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Rm 8.18).

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