Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
Christendom and Apostolic Mission: The Kerygma
We conclude this Lenten pastor column series on Christendom and Apostolic Mission, and this week, in celebration of Easter and the Lord’s Resurrection, we reflect upon a condensed Gospel presentation (the
once again). This will encapsulate the whole way of thinking, seeing, being, and living.
In the Christian vision, to be a human is to be involved in an extraordinary adventure. And an integral aspect of this drama is that we have been born into an invisible world as well as a visible one, and the invisible world is comparably more real, more lasting, more beautiful, and much larger than the visible. Our blindness to the invisible world represents much of our predicament, giving rise to much of our suffering. We are caught by the illusion of the merely seen, and we need to have our blindness cured.
We have been born into a battle, and we are given the fearful and dignifying burden of choice: we need to take a side.
Every human has been
for the magnificent destiny that makes the greatest prizes of this world seem like so much useless fluff and trinkets, a destiny of such height that the imagination can hardly take it in. Not only are we meant to know good things, happiness, strength, and length of existence, but we have been created to experience the unthinkable: to share in the very nature of God, to become as it were “divinized.” This is the first “chapter” of the
But our divine destiny has been lost to us by our own pride and rebellion – and so, the second “chapter” of the
Our destiny, therefore, is a grave risk. Were it not for the intervention of the Lord Himself in human history by a shocking gesture of humility and love (Jesus Christ made incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be born, live, suffer, die, and rise again for us), our divine destiny truly would be lost forever.
By far the most important and significant event in the entire history of the world was the coming of the Lord Himself among us in the human form – and so, the third “chapter” of the
: Rescued. Jesus came not only to teach us truth but also to do battle for us against the powers of darkness and death. And having conquered them, He gives us new life, individually and as an entire human race.
In the ancient adage of the Church Fathers, God became man so that man can become like God. In coming to help and save humanity, the Lord did not just intervene from outside; He conferred on us the high dignity of becoming one of us; He arranged matters such that a human might have the honor of conquering the enemies of humanity. He then established a society in the midst of a darkened world, a kind of colony of Heaven that He inhabits and with which He clothes Himself, and He gave to all who follow His lead a share in His own life, along with great responsibilities and notable powers to continue the work of healing and saving the human race.
This society, this colony, is the Catholic Church. And the fortunes of this society as well as the ongoing story of the Lord bring humans from slavery to sin to divinity in Himself is the central drama of humanity, compared with which the rise and fall of entire nations, empires, and civilizations truly is of no lasting importance.
So, how do we respond? The fourth “chapter” of the
: Response. Our great task, the whole of our existence here, is to find and embrace our true destiny and to help others do the same by receiving and embracing the Lord’s offer to us of His mercy.
There are two and only two possible destinations for each human: to gain the life that is intended for us as members of a renewed humanity and offered to us through Jesus Christ, or to turn obstinately from that life and so to end as immortal failures. For each human, both are real possibilities, and there is no evading the choice: we must accept either the one or the other.
And then, at the end of days, Jesus Christ will determine who truly has responded to the free gift of salvation and so is found worthy to enter life, thus, to enjoy forever the Kingdom of eternal refreshment, light, and peace. This is the reward of our
: for those who are found worthy, all their longings for perfection, communion and love, justice, fulfillment, beauty, goodness, and truth will be satisfied triumphantly in the Lamb’s eternal banquet of joy and communion, and they will experience that for which they were created.
Until that day, we who choose to accept the Lord’s gift of salvation live as exiles, in hope and hard fighting, waiting for the final triumph of Jesus Christ, full of gratitude for what we have been given, full of hope for all that we are promised, full of love that originates in Jesus, a love for others who also need to hear the Good News of a merciful and forgiving and gift-giving, life-giving God. And here, in exile, we battle for Beauty, Goodness, and Truth that are of God.
What is important for an apostolic cultural context is its narrative and mythic character. To be apostolic in vision is to recognize that Christians do not see
things differently than others but that we see
differently, in the light of the extraordinary drama that we are striving, with God’s grace, to understand. To be apostolic is to do more than assent to a set of doctrinal truths or moral precepts, essential as they are; it is to experience daily the adventure that arises from encounter with Jesus Christ; it is to view all events and all people, moment by moment, in the light of that visit; it is to be caught by the perilous and yet joy-filled work of learning to be transformed into divine beings on pilgrimage toward eternal life in the all-loving, all-merciful embrace of God.
Three fundamental convictions, in light of this: one, the world is crying right now because we have abandoned ourselves to anything and everything that is
God; two, the Church is crying right now because we have lost our sense of mission and purpose to proclaim the Gospel to all the world, to evangelize the peoples as Jesus commanded us so as to help everyone to be saved from a slavery to anything and everything that is
God; and three, we are born for
– for this mission, for this purpose, for this time and place.
Three essential principles. One, we need to recapture a truly
worldview, putting aside what is of godless modernity, putting scientism aside (note: not
, the good and noble work of the human mind, but
, a modern cult that makes science a false god), putting aside
that is not of God, and embracing the God-centered, Bible-informed view of the world, existence, and human nature all over again. Two, it is not enough for church institutions to be staffed, to have membership, to go about everything simply because “it is how we have always done it.” We need to be in
, a family of God, partners in mission, bold and joyful and unafraid. And three, we need to remember that
is the Architect of
is God, and
May it be, then, that we press forward into what lies ahead, we will rise again as Christians and carry on as disciples of Jesus Christ. And may the Lord bless each of us in all that we strive to say and do in His most holy Name.
~ Fr. Lewis
on Saturday, April 3 at 2:00PM