16 April 2009

The Octave of Easter

In today's Gospel we hear about one of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to his disciples. As he converses with them -- and comforts them -- he reminds them of the quotation about how the Christ must suffer first and then rise from the dead on the third day. This reality is represented by many examples -- both in nature and in the spiritual life.

In his book, "Jesus of Nazareth" our Holy Father talks about how the grape must suffer the process of pressing before it can be made into wine. So too, we can see how the grain of wheat must be milled before it can be baked into the bread. Just as Our Lord suffered death before his resurrection, in our own spiritual lives we too must undergo a death -- a daily choosing to follow Christ in all the little challenges that come our way: being compassionate to a co-worker who can be irritating, unjamming the xerox machine (even when we didn't jam it ourselves), reaching out to someone who has treated us unkindly, etc. These small deeds are ways in which we "die" to the often-easier choice of doing what is more comfortable.

When we allow ourselves to be suffer some small inconvenience without counting the cost, we follow closely in the way of the Lord's cross. For these daily acts of virtue, when practiced often, will quickly be pressed into wine worthy of sacrifice. And these small sacrifices are not in vain since we know that the Lord's cross was the gateway to his triumph over sin and death. As we sing our Easter Alleluias, let us sing them from a place where we can still cast our eyes on Mount Calvary, the birthplace of our salvation.

"The death and passion of Our Lord is the sweetest and most constraining motive that can animate our hearts in this mortal life."
St. Francis de Sales

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