Rev. Paul V. Redmond
Mount St. Mary's University
(04-05-09) Many years ago, friends, but not at the dawn of time, I had a mistaken idea of Lent. Perhaps you may have had a similar idea. I kept thinking that Lent was only a great preparation for the rising of Jesus.
But that is not the whole story. Lent is a preparation for the rising of the Lord Jesus in the way we usually think about it. However, there is also a deeper meaning to our preparing for the rising of Jesus which commands our attention. Jesus will not rise next Sunday any more than he graced a feeding trough last Christmas. To make
this mistake is to confuse the HISTORY of what took place with the MYSTERY of what took place and still takes place.
Jesus moved from a supper room to a garden to a cross and to a tomb from which he rose. During Lent you and I respond to the challenging grace to deepen in our personal prayer and in our public worship - the Mass and perhaps the Stations of the Cross-as we try to live in our own lives those loving moments in the life of Jesus that we
celebrate at this sacred time. But we do not pray nor live as if Jesus has not yet risen.
Jesus has already died and risen. We dare not pretend that he has not. The whole of our Lent is a double reality of Jesus' dying and rising. The whole of Lent is a triumph squarely in the heart of tragedy. The Paschal mystery is one mystery: life in and through death. The cross of Jesus is itself a triumph. The cross is the glorious
mystery of his dying and his rising coupled together. We parcel out this holy mystery of God's love for us in "time periods." We speak of 40 days of Lent, then Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday and Pentecost. To bring this beautiful mystery concretely home to us we need to keep realizing that the dying and rising of Jesus goes on
regularly in our lives.
You and I share in the dying and rising of Jesus not in two steps: dying now and rising hereafter. Our life is not a way of sharing his Calvary in a "vale of tears" and then sharing his Easter in eternity. Rather, in God's grace Calvary and Easter take place together here and now in our lives as Christians. In our dying here and now
is our rising in Jesus here and now.
In this life you and I rise regularly to that "new life"-the life of Father, Son and Spirit in us-by dying to sin and our dying to self.
Our dying to sin is an openness to God's constant, ever deepening love for us---as he persistently hounds us with his everlasting love. In experiencing God's cherishing love for us we try, in graced repentance, to purge ourselves of whatever it is in our lives that holds us back from surrendering to his love.
Our dying to self is a problem which we regularly face: "letting go" of yesterday, not to forget it, but not to cling to it. Whether it is a matter of losing our health or our hair, our money or our memory, a family member or a friend whom we intimately love-whether it is being fired or retired, divorced or disabled, we always have
to move on. To "let go" is to grow in hope. These graced moments always involve -a pain that we cannot really explain-it is a type of dying.
The pain that you and I experience in our process of our dying to sin and our dying to self is always soaked with promise. There is no dying that does not have nested within it the seeds of fresh life. We began that "fresh life", our "risen life", our "eternal life" at the time of our baptism, the most important day in our lives. On
that day the life of Jesus began to course through us like another bloodstream.
Friends, may you and I simply become more deeply aware of who we really are---the "beloved of God." We are all "risen", but not completely risen. In our dying to sin and our dying to self may we "let go" and surrender unconditionally to the passionate love of God-Father, Son, and Spirit-- for us. May each of us make our own every day
the prayer of Jesus: "Father, into your hands I give myself." In his graced, loving response, may the Lord Jesus rise in us. May he "Easter" in us.
Read other homilies by Father Paul