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LOVE'S PASSIONATE DEATH leads to GLORIOUS RESURRECTION, Part I of series: Paschal Mystery, Joy and Divine Mercy

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Series: Paschal Mystery, Joy and Divine Mercy, 

Part I:

LOVE'S PASSIONATE DEATH

leads to

GLORIOUS RESURRECTION:

PASCHAL MERCY

PASSIONATE TOPICS, INTERWOVEN

In preparation for Easter Sunday, Holy Week, and Divine Mercy Sunday, coming up, we introduced this series in our earlier blog. Six articles are included on “The Paschal Mystery, Joy, and Divine Mercy” theme. There will be many thoughts presented on these well-known subjects. They include:

~Our Savior’s death and resurrection, along with various aspects of these mysteries.

~The joy that contains His and our motivation and strength through trials.

~God’s ever-present loving kindness and mercy that is so incomprehensible.

Some parts will be anthologies and quotes… some new meditative, inspirational reflections… and most are mixed.

These topics are inter-woven. At the heart of our faith in God, Who is Love, they wind their way through scripture, throughout papal documents, and in previous blog writings. Hopefully, all of us will gladly renew (or now begin) our desire to seek the Lord’s hand in knitting them into the fabric of our own lives.

Resurrection, restoration, and joy become the grand finale of Our Lord’s tribulation-filled life, tortuous Passion, and horrific crucifixion. When we “take up our cross and follow” Him, we, too, walk that road toward a joyous, resurrection “grand finale”… and brand new beginning… even “on earth as it is in heaven”. As Jesus prayed—“thy kingdom come, thy will be done”—we seek His kingdom reign over us.


“THE WOUNDED DRAW GOD’S MERCY”

We tend to think we need to walk up the mountain in search of God at the top—closer to heaven and out of this world. God, however, walks down the mountain and into our noisy, busy marketplace in search of us. We are his children, so lost and so endangered in the strife of this earthly world. We are all wounded and waiting for the medic to come and save us. It is the vulnerable child that parents long to assist, and the child with special needs who inspires deep compassion. It is the sinner who calls forth mercy and forgiveness.” 1

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” [Mt 9:12b]

“‘It is in the mystery of the Cross that the overwhelming power of the Heavenly Father’s mercy is revealed in all its fullness,’ the Pope said. ‘In order to win back the love of his creature, he accepted to pay a very high price: the Blood of his Only Begotten Son.’…‘We are exhorted to come out of ourselves in order to open ourselves in trustful abandonment to the merciful embrace of the Father.’ ” [pp.34-35] 2

The Father (our “Abba, Father”) originally paid the price of “mercy” (in formulating a salvation plan) as soon as the Garden of Eden fell into enemy hands. Because of His great love for us, God acted as soon as sin entered the world.

This happened when His beloved children chose another “god” to believe and submit to. This, of course, is the devil, represented by the “snake” in Genesis chapter 3, who became the “god of this world”.

Arrogance on the part of God may have been justified, perhaps, from a fallen worldly mindset, considering He was and is the Supreme Being and Most High God. But, instead, humility and love reigned. Patience, mercy, kindness and love reigned. We were—and are right now— all given another chance…

The humble and obedient Son—Who co-existed with the Father for all time, from the beginning—still gladly and willingly took the role of Savior. That is why the “well-pleased” Father has given Him the “name above all names”. And He will come in glory at the end of the age to be highly exalted as King of kings and Lord of lords, before all the nations on earth.


JESUS BECAME OUR EVERYTHING; HE CALLS ALL TO SALVATION

“…Christ himself, the slaughtered Lamb, calls to all peoples: ‘So come, you of all races of men who are ensnared by your sins and receive forgiveness, the Passover of your salvation; I am the Lamb slain for you; I am your redemption, your way, your resurrection, your light, your salvation, and your king. It is I who lead you to the heights of Heaven, I who will show you the Father who exists from eternity, I who will raise you to life with my right hand.“ (General Audience, March 31, 2004, St. John Paul II) 3


SALVATION: JESUS TAKES THE WEIGHT OF SIN

Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is precisely here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross!

Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including the sin of all of us, and he cleanses it; he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the Cross.” (Homily/ Mar 24, 2013) [p. 9] 4


PASSOVER/ PESACH

“‘Christians and Jews share [the hope of freedom and redemption through the Covenant]; we are in fact, as the prophets say, “prisoners of hope” (Zech 9:12). This bond permits us Christians to celebrate alongside you, though in our own way, through the Passover of Christ’s death and Resurrection, which we see as inseparable from your own, for Jesus himself said, ‘Salvation is from the Jews’.” (Jn 4:22).

(continuing… )

Our Easter and your Pesach, while distinct and different, unite us in our common hope centered on God and his mercy.’ (Pope Benedict XVI, April 17, 2008) The Pope is saying that both the Jews’ liberation through Moses from slavery in Egypt and our liberation through Christ from the bondage of sin, death, and the devil come from the same source: God’s mercy.” [p. 42] 5


JESUS IS WOUNDED OUT OF LOVE FOR US…. AND REIGNS WOUNDED

“For Lent 2007, Pope Benedict’s theme [was] the Scripture passage,

‘They shall look on him whom they have pierced’ (Jn 19:37). He weaves in mercy by bringing us to the foot of the Cross... [p.35] ‘The Lord took his wounds with him to eternity. He is a wounded God; he let himself be injured through his love... His wounds are a sign that he understands and allows himself to be wounded out of love for us.

These wounds of his: how tangible they are to us in the history of our time! Indeed, time and again, he allows himself to be wounded for our sake. What certainty of his mercy, what consolation do his wounds mean for us!...And what a duty they are for us, the duty to allow ourselves in turn to be wounded for him!’ (Pope Benedict XVI, Divine Mercy Sunday, April 15, 2007)

These powerful words of our Holy Father are enough to leave you speechless. He is saying that since Christ brought His glorified body with its wounds into eternity, He now reigns as a wounded God. His wounds are a tangible sign that He understands our plight, and even now, in ways we can’t fathom, He allows Himself to be wounded out of love for us.” [p. 38] 6

Jesus “reigns as a wounded God”. That is difficult for us to understand. He rose with His resurrected (“healed”) body in a form that we cannot quite grasp or describe. Yes, He is victorious! And all of heaven rejoices! But He lives—not as would be quite justified and even envisioned by our worldly minds: (not) as this glorious King in blinding light, “kicking back” and “just” running the show.

Instead, He works continually, “ever-interceding” as our High Priest, deeply in touch with our pain and our needs, our sin and our hurting one another—and not just “resting” from His horrific assignment on this earth. His heart, His care and His attention are still focused on His sheep—lost and wandering, often “clueless”, and in need of our Good Shepherd… whether we realize it or not…we, His sheep.


COMPASSIONATE REIGN

"…Even now, the compassionate ‘gaze’ of Christ continues to fall upon individuals and peoples. He watches them, knowing that the divine ‘plan’ includes their call to salvation… and he is moved with pity for the crowds…" [32-34] 7

He and we await His most visible and most glorious reign when He comes again. And yet, His kingdom is “at hand”, even now. He desires to rule and reign as our powerful yet benign and ever-loving King over every aspect of ourselves and of our lives… so that He can “work all things together for good”, and lead and guide us into all of the benefits, graces and blessings brought through His death and resurrection… along with the action of the Holy Spirit in and through each of us—as we seek and receive it, step by step..

Jesus told us that His Father—our Father—would send the Holy Spirit to help and comfort us, and lead us into truth. (For further information, consider reading the blog article, “Confirmation and Beyond: Life in and with the Holy Spirit” prior to this series… and the upcoming four-part series on “Pentecost and the Holy Spirit” coming in late spring).

Human thinking may assume that, having paid that awful price—through living and dying for us— and having risen so victoriously, Jesus would be “finished”… After all, the promised Holy Spirit has been sent, and is quite available and active in lives that welcome Him.But Jesus apparently considers His task “incomplete” until He finishes helping His sheep… His “friends”, His “followers” and His “bride”. 

What is He helping us do? Even now He is humbly serving—though still King of heaven and earth—helping us to apply and win the victories in our own lives… through “ever-interceding” for us, and through answering prayers, and continually aiding us in ways we are simply not aware of. ("YES", to answer the unasked question: We are still, most often, "dumb" like sheep, and unaware of the rich flow of love and graces continuously streaming from the heart of God!)


SHARING CHRIST AND HIS SALVATION… IN WORD AND IN DEED

“…Pope Francis has so often insisted that Christians must build their lives on the crucified Christ… We receive Christ’s strength to defeat the devil by sharing in his victory on the cross over sin, death and the diabolic power—his striking of the serpent’s head… ‘Christ’s Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.’” (Mar 24, 2013) [p. 9] 8

So… then also, as Jesus exhorted us, we “pick up our cross[es] daily, and follow Him…” In doing so, we can—in our own weakness and in His strength—overcome the enemy with His power. Then… we, in turn, share this magnificent love… this “price paid” for us… with others.

“[A]s blessed (now Saint) Teresa of Calcutta frequently observed, the worst poverty is not to know Christ. Therefore, we must help others to find God in the merciful face of Christ.” (Lenten message, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI) [pp. 32-34] 9

[Enlarged quote from above]“…Even now, the compassionate ‘gaze’ of Christ continues to fall upon individuals and peoples. He watches them, knowing that the divine ‘plan’ includes their call to salvation. Jesus knows the perils that put this plan at risk, and he is moved with pity for the crowds. He chooses to defend them from the wolves even at the cost of his own life. The gaze of Jesus embraces individuals and multitudes, and he brings them all before the Father, offering himself as a sacrifice for expiation…” [pp. 32-34] 10

Our sinfulness brought us our Redeemer, the God made human and vulnerable like us in order to save us. God writes straight with crooked lines. We are not all called to live in a monastery or to find a gated community of some kind that insulates us from the poor and the disadvantaged.

We are called as Christians to be God’s love in the midst of the turmoil and confusion of the daily newspapers. What a happy fault that our darkness brought Jesus down to us in order to lift us up to the light with him.” 11

As we close, we turn to the words, again, of St. Pope John Paul II:

“In the end, Christ himself, the slaughtered Lamb, calls to all peoples: ‘So come, you of all races of men who are ensnared by your sins and receive forgiveness, the Passover of your salvation; I am the Lamb slain for you;

I am your redemption, your way, your resurrection, your light, your salvation, and your king. It is I who lead you to the heights of Heaven, I who will show you the Father who exists from eternity, I who will raise you to life with my right hand.’” (General Audience, March 31, 2004, St. John Paul II) 12

“Remember that the passion of Christ ends always in the joy of the Resurrection, so when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the Resurrection has to come, the joy of Easter has to dawn. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ!” Teresa of Calcutta 13


The series continues. The next blog is:

PART II: THE CROSS OF CHRIST—THE “JOY” OF IT?

PASSIONATE DEATH leads to JOYOUS RESURRECTION”.

The theme is based on the scripture: “For the sake of the joy that

lay ahead, He endured the cross.”

We all need to learn how to find the joy!

The remaining parts in the series are:

PART II B: FINDING JOY

CONCLUDING COMMENTS

We end the article with scriptures and with selected quotes from Evangelii Gaudium

followed by:

PART III: “PASCHAL MYSTERY VICTORY”—

"To live is Christ, to die is gain”

~ Dying and rising with Christ

~Joy in the midst of pain

~Joy comes in the morning

PART IV: THE HEART OF THE TRINITY:

LOVE AND MERCY—

~Seeing it

~Receiving it

~Walking in it

PART V: DIVINE MERCY THEME

IN PAPAL WRITINGS

FOOTNOTES:

THE LIVING GOSPEL—Daily Devotions for Lent 2015,by Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C., 2014, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana [Footnotes numbers 1 and 11]

BRINGING LENT HOME WITH ST. JOHN PAUL II,by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, 2014, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana [Footnotes numbers 3 and 12]

POPE BENEDICT’S DIVINE MERCY MANDATE,by David Came, Marian Press, Stockbridge, MA 01263 [Footnotes numbers 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10]

THE MESSAGE OF MERCY. The “Message of Mercy” pamphlet is distributed by Marian Fathers in the United States, who have a center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

WHO IS THE DEVIL? WHAT POPE FRANCIS SAYS by Rev. Nick Donnelly [Footnotes numbers 4 and 8]

This article is based on blogs posted by Kathy Boh on March 24, 2016 and March 29,2017 on trinitychurchsupply.com/blog.

13 I LOVED JESUS IN THE NIGHT… TERESA OF CALCUTTA, A SECRET REVEALED, by Paul Murray, Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA, p.18


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