The Journey of Easter (From Cross to Crown)
Our Parish Mission Statement this year captures the Resurrection Power that we celebrate. This message has come to us through the apostle Paul when he writes to the Romans, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” Rom. 5:5. Thus the 2017 Mission Statement: Have faith don’t despair, hope in the Lord. In this Lenten Season we have been richly blessed by its fruitful celebration. We indeed embarked on several spiritual exercises and our darling parishioners were eager and with enthusiasm embraced them all. The Societies in a special way had a retreat for five weeks; the entire parishioners embarked on the Catholic Lenten spiritual exercise of the Stations of the Cross. I, however, continue to call Parishioners that are lagging behind to wake up from their slumber in faith, time is not on your side. I am inviting you to sacramental confession, so that we can celebrate the rest part of the Easter Season by receiving the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ to us – in Holy Communion.
I use this moment to thank the Pastoral team, the Dominican Fathers and Brothers. I also thank the Our Lady of Apostles Reverend Sisters (OLA) for their collaboration with us, and adding to their ‘cap of ‘collabo,’some of them gave talks to some societies during the Parish Retreat. I once again appreciate all the parishioners in societies, all the liturgical functionaries and also our sisters and brothers helping at the children ministry. I also appreciate all the Staff on the compound. We ask the good Lord to continue to bless and be with our widows and their children. Amen.May the good Lord continue to be gracious to you all. Amen.
It is generally known that LentenSeason is a preparation for Easter. It is thus interesting to know that the Lenten Season has its meaning in the celebration of Easter. In other words, “No cross, no Crown.” We learn during the Lenten season how to face and accept the crosses of life. The very first cross of life common to every human being is the battle against temptation. And in the first week of Lent, we were immediately taught shown that the devil is out to tempt us.
Our Blessed Lord was patient, he was resolute and he was focused when he was faced with these temptations. We are thus called to be patient when tempted, not to give in but to be resolute and to know that a crown awaits our victory.
In the second week of Lent, the Church teaches us through the gospel that God has a way of preparing us against any adversity that would come our way. In the transfiguration, our Blessed Lord prepared the apostles; he fortified them against the scandal of the cross. We do not walk alone as we pass through life; as we pass through the difficulties. He is there to strengthen us; we are not alone because he journeys with us.
From the third week of Lent, Jesus begins to say, “I AM.” I AM is a very familiar expression in the Old Testament. It is an expression that points to no other person but God himself. When Moses was in conversation with God he asked, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” The Lord God replied, “I AM WHO AM” Exodus 3:13 & 14. In other words, Jesus is God incarnate, who has come to save his people.
In the third, fourth and fifth weeks of Lent Jesus began to draw closer to himself, his glory. In the third we saw the Samaritan woman; in the fourth we saw the story of the man born blind and in the fifth week the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
The summit of “I AM” is in the story of Lazarus who was raised from the dead. Here Jesus told the curious Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” Jn. 11:1-45. With this Jesus proved that he is the ‘Alpha and the Omega,’‘the Beginning and the End,’‘the First and the Last.’ It is appointed to everyone to live and then die. Jesus raised Lazarus from death to prove to the Jewish people that he is the savior of the world, that he is the expected Messiah, the Christ. A feat that has never been performed before and will never be performed again, except in his name. This is the summit of our faith that whoever believes in the Only Begotten Son of God will be saved. Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” It is very obvious that every Catholic believes in this creed, the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
The story of Easter is in the resurrection not of Lazarus for Jesus raised him from the dead. But the good news of Easter is that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead. That is, he raised himself from the dead. He had told them that the Son of Man has power to lay down his life and the power to raise it up; and that is truly what he did. This same Jesus has promised us all resurrection from the dead. Even though we will all die; we shall live, because He lives. Alleluia!
The power of resurrection is not only experienced when we die, no! It is also experienced in this world. For in John’s gospel we read, “To those who received him, he gave them power to become children of God” Jn. 1:12.“For those who live in him have passed from death to new life.” This Resurrection Power gives us hope to face the challenges of life. This same Power gives us the joy of the Lord during difficult times. This same Power of Resurrection enables us to carry our crosses patiently with the hope of the glory of the Lord. According to St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” Rom. 8:18.
HAPPY EASTER: THE LORD IS RISEN AS HE SAID.
Rev. Fr. Felix Onemheghie, OP
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