Tag Archives: Holy Week & Easter

We Carry About Within Us

Father James Chelich – Easter 2008

Easter_Sunrise

Continually We Carry About Within Us
the Dying and the Rising of Jesus!

I

As a result of our original sin, human nature became fundamentally distorted. It has remained so for all men and women from generation to generation. History well attests to this. Turned in upon itself, our human nature became prone to greed and discontent.
It became angry and violent – dying itself and dealing death to all around. Saint James describes it well:

It is not your inner cravings that make war within your members?
What you desire you do not obtain, and so you resort to murder.
You envy and you cannot acquire, so you quarrel and fight.
You do not obtain because you do not ask.
You ask and you do not receive because you ask wrongly,
with a view to squandering what you receive on your pleasures. James 4:1b-3

Fallen human nature fails to connect with God, with others, and with the world in
a life-giving way. It loses sight of the good in people and things, and becomes blind
to beauty. Fears of every kind take possession of it and drive the way in which it reacts to things.

Saint John explains that God, the Word Who created all things in the beginning,
and Who first fashioned our human nature, “became flesh.” (John 1:1-3, 14)
In other words, God, while keeping His divine nature, took upon Himself our human nature and came among us “in the likeness of men.”(see Philippians 2:5-8) The human nature God took on in Jesus was our fallen human nature. The prophet Isaiah writes:

It was our infirmities that he bore. Isaiah 53:4

Saint Paul tells us:

For our sakes God made him who did not know sin, to become sin,
so that in him we might become the very holiness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

God cannot sin. So if Jesus is God, why does Saint Paul say he became sin? Saint Paul is saying that in Jesus, God the Son took on a human nature overwhelmingly prone to sin. Fallen human nature in every human person is overwhelmingly prone to sin. Of our own strength, we cannot long resist. But the proclivity to sin in our fallen human nature is not overwhelming for the Divine Person who took it on. God the Son, did this in Jesus. And Saint Paul makes it clear that He did it for a reason: that we might become the very holiness of God. What happened to fallen human nature in Jesus? How did it happen in him? How can it happen for us?

II

Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
Through baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that,
just as Christ was raised from the death by the glory of the Father,
we too might live a new life…
His death was death to sin, once for all; his life is life for God.
In the same way, you must consider yourselves dead to sin
and alive for God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:3-4; 10-11

The entire life of Jesus was death to sin and life for God. Every one of his actions was
a “no” to the sin his human nature wanted him to do, and a “yes” to the good God call us to do. Throughout the full course of his life, each time he acted contrary to his sin-prone human nature, Jesus unwove a part of the old human nature in him and rewove a restored human nature in its place. This was the work of the Divine Person he was.
This continued throughout his human life, until at his death, Jesus had rewoven,
in himself, a complete and entirely new humanity, a way of being human fully restored
to the way God created it to be. The Letter to the Hebrews says:

He had to become like his bothers (and sisters) in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God on their behalf,
to expiate the sins of the people…
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness,
but one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and favor and to find help in time of need. Hebrews 3:17; 4:15-16

III

A powerful and enduring motivation for becoming a Christian is found when a person recognizes in Jesus a new way of being a human being, and, as a result, comes to want this, above all else, for himself – to say with her whole heart’s desire:

“I want to be the new human being I see in him.”

But how to actually become this new human being? If wishes could make it so, then truly this would be a perfect world. But wishes won’t cut it, and neither will resolutions. The way Jesus showed us, the only way, is to die and to rise. The spiritual arts of dying and rising are vital and work together to create a new humanity out of an old one.
Saint Paul wrote:

If we have been united with Christ through likeness to his death,
so shall we be through a life resurrection. Romans 6:5
You must lay aside your former way of life
and old self which deteriorates through illusion and desire
and…put on that new man created in God’s image,
whose justice and holiness are born of the truth. Ephesians 4: 21-24

But again, how to do this? Can you buy the power to die to the Old Self and rise
to the New Woman or Man? Someone in the Bible actually once tried to (see Acts 8:9-24). The power to die to the old and rise to the new cannot be purchased nor can it be put
into a potion or found in a self help book. Neither is it a function of will-power.
It belongs to Jesus alone. It does not exist apart from him. One can have “it”
only if one receives “Him.” Jesus said it plainly:

He who lives in me and I in him will produce abundantly,
but apart from me you can do nothing. No more than a branch
can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, can you bear fruit
apart from me. John 15: 5, 4

The key is to receive Jesus and invite him to live within you. This requires a personal act of faith in which you entrust your life to him. It then means asking him to enter in and actually live within you. This must renewed each day. Finally, the way you receive Holy Communion must acquire a very specific intent: to receive Jesus and to know the dying and the rising of Jesus within you.

As you pass through your day and the successive events of your life, it is to Jesus, living within you, that you turn and from him that you draw the resolution and strength to die
to your sinful inclinations, attitudes, words and actions. You die to them with him,
as he died to them for you. It is to Jesus, living within you, that you turn and from him that you receive the power to rise and be a new and different woman or man – a woman or man of honesty, free of the paralysis of fear, full of courage, possessed of an unbounded compassion, fully capable of engaging with life and connecting with
what is good and beautiful in all things. You rise to a new life with him, as he rose
to live for you.

Because of his great love for us (God) brought us to life with Christ
when we were dead in sin. By this favor you were saved.
Both with and in Christ Jesus he raised us up… This is not your own doing,
it is God’s gift; neither is it a reward for anything you have accomplished…
We are truly his handiwork, created in Christ to lead the life of good deeds
which God prepared for us in advance. Ephesians 2:4-10

What makes us Christians is that we carry about within us “the dying and rising
of Jesus,” and this becomes our salvation, our freedom, our transformation, and our hope of glory. The words of the Mass become the motto of our life: To die, to rise and to live through him, with him, and in him! There is no other Way! All this flows from Him living within us. And so he prayed:

Father…
I have given them the glory You gave me
that they may be one, as we are one –
I living in them, You living in me…
So shall the world know that You sent me
and that You loved them as You loved me.
John 17: 22-23

He Goes Ahead of You

The Message and Power of Easter
Fr. James Chelich, 1996

easter

The first Gospel of Easter, the one the Church chooses to announce the resurrection at the Easter Vigil, reads: After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene came with the other Mary to inspect the tomb. Suddenly there was a mighty earthquake, as the angel of the Lord descended…. The angel spoke, addressing the women: “Do not be frightened. I know that you are looking for Jesus the Crucified, but he is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised…. Go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has been raised from the dead and now goes ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see him. That is the message I have for you…” Suddenly, without warning, Jesus stood before them and said, “Peace!” The women came up and embraced his feet…Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid! Go and carry the news to my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, where they will see me.” Matthew 28:1-11 “As the first day of the week was dawning” The Easter Gospel begins with a specific reference to time: it is dawn of the first day of the week, the day we now call Sunday — the Sunday immediately after Jesus death and burial. This detail about time, along with those about the place and his physical presence to the women serve to make it clear that Jesus actually, physically rose from the dead. It is the Christian witness that he was actually seen and physically touched. We can draw something more from the reference that, “the first day of the week was dawning.” Chapter 1:1 to 2:4 of the Book of Genesis describes creation as being formed by God in six days, with God resting from His labor on the seventh day, the sabbath. Chapter 2:25 to 4:16 describes the disorder human sin brought into creation and the resulting pain, suffering and chaos that touches the lives of all of us. Throughout his earthly life the Gospel shows Jesus drawing the pain and suffering of fallen creation and humanity to himself. In the last week of his life he confronts the sin at the root of this suffering. This week of awesome confrontation results in Jesus “resting” in death on the seventh or sabbath day (Saturday). Now, at daybreak on the first day of a new week (Sunday), Jesus rises in the power of a new creation, a creation free of sin and free from the distortion of sin’s terrible consequences. The risen Lord has a message, delivered first by the angel then by himself. For those who believe this message, the dawn of this “first day” of Jesus’ resurrected life becomes the dawn of a new day in their personal lives — the “first day” of a personal new creation. “This is the message I have for you” Both the angel and Jesus deliver the same two-part message: “Do not be frightened…” “Do not be afraid…” “He has been raised from the dead and now goes ahead of you…where you will see him.” “They are to go to Galilee, where they will see me.” Notice that while the first part of the message is not to be afraid, the second part is the reason not to be. “He has been raised from the dead and now goes ahead of you…where you will see him.” The life-transforming power of Easter can be found in these words if you open your mind and your heart to the truth in them. “He has been raised from the dead…” Jesus actually rose from the dead — not just spiritually, morally or figuratively — but physically. The presence of the risen Jesus affects everything in the “real” world, the physical included. Jesus did not just rise for himself. He rose so that “real” men and women living in a “real” world could rise out of an old existence into a new one: out of crippling dependencies and addictions into freedom and confidence, out of sin into virtue, from death to life. Because he really rose we human beings living in the real world now have a choice: We can wake up in the morning to one more day of the same old disorder with all its pain and suffering, or we can rise to the “first day” of an entirely new existence. What makes the difference? He does! The real presence of Jesus makes the difference. “He…now goes ahead of you…” The “real” Jesus, the Jesus who walked the streets of Jerusalem and the roads of Galilee, the one you read about in the Gospels, has risen and gone ahead of you. He has personally “gone ahead” to every time and situation in the day and week ahead of you, especially those that will be the most trying: those were you will confront the greatest hardship, that will bring you face to face with your most feared inadequacies, that will tempt you the strongest, and in which you will be the most anxious and afraid. When you arrive at these moments, He will have arrived before you. He will already be there, personally present and waiting for you. “You will see him.” If you acknowledge the presence of Jesus in any moment or situation, you will experience his presence and his power transforming both you and the situation you are in. Aware and connected to his presence, you will speak and act differently — breaking through fear and anxiety, resisting temptation, experiencing a peace and a confidence never known before. Aware and connected to his presence you will see things, hear things and understand things in the situation that you would otherwise have completely missed. Aware and connected to his presence you will be startled at the unexpected changes in people and events. He is alive! “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name in the whole world given to us by which we are to be saved.” Acts 4:12 Believe the message of Easter: Jesus is risen! Jesus has gone ahead of you! He had arrived and is present in every place and moment this day will take you! Exercise this message is your heart. Before everything you do today and when moving from one thing to another, stop, pronounce the name “Jesus” in your heart. Say his name and let the saying of it acknowledge that you are not in that situation alone. Let it connect you in a personal way to his presence. Let it remind you that he has arrived here ahead of you. Let it assure you that at some point in this moment and situation you will experience the transforming power of the resurrection either within yourself or in the unfolding of the moment or both. Do you have to literally pause, become mindful of His presence, and actually say his name? Absolutely, and with faith and conviction! “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Jesus, You have gone ahead of me to each moment and situation of this day.
You are here now, in this moment and situation.
Let me see what You are doing and show me how I can contribute to it.

EASTER Our Convicition, Our Witness & Our Resolve

“What Is the Work that We Do?”
Fr. James Chelich, 1992

Easter1

People came in great numbers to hear Jesus. They were looking for miracles, especially the multiplica-tion of loaves to eat. Jesus challenged them to work for a different kind of food, “a food that remains unto life eternal.”(Jn 6;27) At one point the crowd asks Jesus a question that went to the very root of his life and its meaning: “‘So that we can put faith in you, what sign are you going to perform for us to see? What is the ‘work’ you do?’” John 6:30 What are you here for? What are you here to do? What is your life’s ‘work’? What are you all about? Jesus answers this question three times, on three separate occasions: “He began to teach them that the Son of Humanity had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be put to death, and rise three days later. He said these things quite openly.” Mark 8:31 “They left that district and began a journey through Galilee… He was teaching his disciples in this vein: ‘The Son of Humanity is going to be delivered into the hands of men who will put him to death; three days after his death he will rise.’” Mark 9:30-31 “The disciples were on the road going up to Jerusalem, with Jesus walking in the lead. Their mood was one of wonder- ment, while that of those who followed was fear. Taking the twelve aside once more, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. ‘We are on our way up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Humanity will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit at him, flog him, and finally kill him. But three days later he will rise.’” Mark 10:32-34 The great ‘work’ of Jesus, the Son of God, was to embrace death. It was for this reason he became human. Not just physical death, all the death that can and does come against a human being in the course of a lifetime: depression, loss, broken relationships, shattered family life, betrayed trust, physical illness, mental and emotional disease, tragedy, senseless violence, hatred and persecution. Jesus’ great ‘work’ was to draw it all to himself in a terrifying, intimate embrace. In that embrace the “Author of Life” would impregnate every form of death with the seed of Omnipotent life . Proof of the truth of this would be given in three days when Jesus would rise, giving clear evidence that death could not hold this Omnipotent life. This then, is our conviction as Christians: Jesus, the Son of God and the Author of Life embraced death on his cross — every form of death that can come at a human being — and impregnated it with life, Omnipotent life! Death is no longer a dead-end. No form of death can hold for long against life. The Omnipotent life impregnated in it will break through.

“We are His Witnesses”

“You put to death the Author of Life, But God raised him from the dead, and we are His Witnesses” Acts 3:15 Because of what Jesus did, His disciples have a witness to give. We have something to say to every one of our fellow human beings who are struggling with death in any form. Our message comes right out of the Easter Gospel: “Mary (Magdalene) stood weeping beside the tomb. Even as she wept, she stooped to peer inside, and there she saw two angels in dazzling robes…‘Woman,’ they asked her, ‘why are you weeping?’ (Then) she turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there. But she did not know him. ‘Woman,’ he asked her, ‘why are you weeping?’” John 20:11-18 Our message is simple and straight forward: “There are angels in every tomb!” The power of God is at work for life in every situation of death. This is the ‘work’ of Jesus. It is the meaning of his death and resurrection. The death you face and with which you now struggle is not a dead-end. There is life at work in it, Omnipotent life! This death cannot hold you. New life will emerge. “Jesus is standing near this tomb!” Jesus stands near every person struggling with death in any form. You do not have to face it alone. You do not have to deal with it by yourself. Jesus is near you. Open your heart to him. Give yourself to him. Our CONVICTION and our WITNESS give our lives a clear and undivided orientation: All we are and all we have is at the service of Jesus, at the service of the resurrection, and at the service of life. Our CONVICTION and our WITNESS call for a new RESOLVE: We will make no pact with death in any form, in any measure, or in any direction.
Dying, you destroyed our death; Rising, you restored our life; Lord Jesus, Come in glory! OUR CONVICTION Jesus, the Son of God and the Author of Life, embraced death on his cross — every form of death that can come at a human being — and impregnated it with life — Omnipotent life! Death is no longer a dead- end. No form of death can hold for long. Omnipotent life will break through. This is the ‘work’ of Jesus Christ, and we are witnesses to it. OUR WITNESS …to each other and to all our brothers and sisters who struggle with death “There are angels in this tomb!” The death you face and with which you now struggle is not a dead-end. The power of God is at work for life in it. It cannot hold you. New life will rise from it. “Jesus is standing near this tomb!” Jesus stands near every person struggling with death in any form. You do not have to face this death alone. You do not have to deal with it by yourself. Jesus is near you at this very moment. Open your heart to him. Give your life to him. OUR RESOLVE I exist for life! I will make no pact with death. I cannot give my heart or my hands to “a little bit of death” and “a little bit of life”. I cannot harbor a little anger, a little hatred or a little prejudice for just “some” people. I cannot do “occasional” death. It will divide my spirit, dissipate my energy and destroy me. I live for life — “life to the full” for all my sisters and brothers. My joy is to see Omnipotent life rise out of the death they face.