“IT IS WRITTEN THAT THE CHRIST WOULD SUFFER AND RISE FROM THE DEAD”

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THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

           This is what Jesus tells his disciples, according to the Gospel story, when  he appeared to them, who were so slow to believe, that he was not a ghost, but a real person, the person they had known and seen and heard for a long time, before he was arrested and crucified. In his address he does not stop there: he explains the purpose of his dying and rising “... so that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations”. In other words, so that all men and women might be saved and be given a new life.

 

            But salvation and new life do not come automatically, they do not follow immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection. They take place through an interior and active participation of those who are drawn to Jesus. It is repentance and forgiveness through a personal decision and the washing of baptism.

            Some people may think that this (repentance and baptism) is done once and for all, and after that there is no need of any repentance and cleansing. But SIN is a daily experience: we all know this and have to admit it if we are honest. St. John says it in his letter (today’s second Reading): “My children, I am writing this to stop you  sinning “. If sinning is a daily experience, an undeniable fact, it means that we must repent and seek forgiveness, through the sacraments, regularly and frequently, even daily.

            But all too often we tend to be presumptuous and blind, we are not prepared to admit that we are sinners, in need of repentance and forgiveness here and now. But again St. John in the same quoted passage (second reading of today’s Mass) says: “Anyone who says: ‘I know him’, but does not keep his commandments, is a LIAR!” He is dishonest, ignorant and lives in unreality.

            St. John is very spiritual and mystical in his style, but also very practical, down to earth. You may remember that in the second Reading of last Sunday (2nd of Easter) he stated clearly and simply: “This is what loving God is: keeping his commandments.”  Did Jesus not say this himself: “You are my friends, if you do what I command you” (John 14,15)?

            These are simple things, clear and basic, essential to lead a good Christian life. But too many  refuse to bear the label of ‘sinner’, to be called sinner. They think they belong to a superior class, overzealous, almost impeccable. Do they know that even one voluntary evil thought is a serious and deadly (mortal) sin, forbidding them to receive the body of Christ when they go to Mass? Yet, there they are: 7... 8 months... or even 2... 3 ... years without even thinking of seeking forgiveness (sacrament of reconciliation)! How can a decent, sincere Christian not feel the need of forgiveness as we ask God every day for our daily food?

            Who can live in the grace of God without frequent, daily, repentance and forgiveness? Here is an eye-opener from the mouth of Jesus Himself: “Anyone who does not remain in me, (this means living in the grace of God, being free of grave sin) is thrown away like a branch and withers. These branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burned” (John 15,6)?