Easter Homily of Fr. George Nowak, C.R. April 16, 2017
What is the Paschal Mystery?
The core of the Paschal Mystery is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are the three events of Jesus’ life that we commemorate in every Mass. Not only do we commemorate, His passion, death and resurrection, but we actually participate in it liturgically.
The Paschal Mystery is the “Hour” of Jesus. That moment when He conquers sin and death and thereby transforms the human condition forever, by redeeming the whole world. It is His personal victory over Satan and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
The Paschal Mystery brings about the Redemption of every person, (past, present and future) and the whole created order. It inaugurates the process of Salvation, drawing each of us into the spiritual reality of hope, where we too can triumph over sin and death by uniting ourselves to Christ, and conforming ourselves to His Paschal Mystery. This is the heart of Resurrectionist spirituality.
As a Resurrectionist Priest, I embrace this charism and live it out, through the grace of God. I believe that, just as Jesus transformed the whole world through his Paschal Mystery, I too can contribute to the resurrection of society, in my own little way, by living my life, conformed to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ.
I am often asked to explain what is Resurrectionist Spirituality and how to live it. Today, I would like to share some practical ways in which to conform your lives to the Paschal Mystery.
How to live the Paschal Mystery?
It begins by learning to recognize moments in my own life, when I am being invited by God into His Paschal Mystery. This happens in every moment of life, for every person. By meditating on the Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, I am able to see these moments more clearly in my own life.
First, the Passion of Christ
Christ became incarnate so that He could suffer and die. As a human being, I do not need to search for suffering. It is part of the human condition. I find suffering everywhere, all around me.
Each moment of suffering can be transformative. First I need to notice that I am suffering in some way.
- the pain of a headache
- frustration that something is not going my way
- witnessing injustice in the world
- watching a loved one suffer through an illness
- acknowledging a personal failure
- being rejected
- being publically ridiculed and humiliated
- experiencing the hurt of a broken relationship
I take time to notice the moment of suffering. Sometimes as it happens, but often I realize it later, as I examine my day in prayer before I go to sleep.
When I become aware of my suffering, big or small, I turn to Jesus. I tell Him: You suffered too. You understand how much this moment hurts. I offer You my suffering. You know how to turn your suffering into something good, because by your suffering you redeemed the whole world. I don’t know how to do that. So I give you my moment of suffering. Take it Jesus, unite it with your own and bring some good out of it.
Now my moment of suffering has become Redemptive. I can even ask that the grace obtained be applied to a particular person or situation. Or I can just leave it in God’s hands, knowing that He is conforming me to Jesus.
Second, the Death of Christ
Christ died on the cross to free us from sin. In order to be conformed to Jesus in His death, I have to look at my sins. This is an examination of conscience, but it takes place in the moment of everyday life.
I have to become more and more aware of myself and my tendencies to sin. I must notice what I am doing. I must become reflective. I have to slow down and think before I speak. I cannot just react, I must deliberately choose my action.
- why am I so angry right now?
- why am I so impatient?
- do I really need to take another piece of cake?
- why do I want that person to fail?
- do I not have enough stuff? Do I really need more?
- why am I so upset that I did not win? That I was not chosen?
- why did I boast?
- why do I want that person to be humiliated?
- why do I refuse to apologize?
- why am I so bitter at being asked to do this?
By reflecting on my thoughts and actions, I can begin to identify sin. Pride, envy, selfishness, laziness, gluttony, lust, anger, gossip, slander, arrogance, impatience, indifference.
Once I have identified the sin, I can now turn to Jesus.
I tell him: I realize that I am being selfish/rude/lazy/unkind. I don’t want to be like this. I want to be like you, Jesus. I want to do everything out of love.
Rather than indulge in this sin, I choose to die to self. Just as you died on the Cross because of your great love, I want love to be my only motive.
By choosing to reject my selfish desires, I am denying myself and accepting the cross. I am uniting myself to Jesus and choosing love instead. In this way, as I die to self, I am being conformed to Christ.
Third, the Resurrection of Christ
After he suffered and died on the Cross, Jesus rose from the dead.
Human life is not all suffering and sin. The grace of God permeates all of creation.
Truth, beauty and goodness are all around us. But often, we become desensitized to it when we turn in on ourselves and focus on the negative.
The more we become aware of Christ’s presence in our lives, the more we will be able to identify moments of resurrection. St. Paul said “I want to know Jesus Christ, and the power of his resurrection!” This desire is shared by all Resurrectionists. It is the hallmark of our spirituality. It is the crowning glory of the Paschal Mystery.
In the midst of the most horrific evil, there is hope. Because Jesus triumphed and the power of his Resurrection has been unleashed. The power of his resurrection is greater than suffering, greater than sin, greater than evil, greater than death. It is the very power of the Living God.
As I go through life, I try to notice opportunities. I identify where there is death and decay; where there is fragmentation and disunity; where hope has been lost.
- a broken family
- systemic poverty
- grave injustice
- a lack of truth
- confusion/a lack of understanding
- suffering and death in all its forms
When I notice an instance of death, I immediately turn to Jesus, the Lord of Life.
I tell him: You are needed here. You must come here with the power of your resurrection and bring new life! Come, Lord Jesus, and let your light dispel this darkness. Come, my Risen Lord, and conquer evil with good.
It is then that I feel His presence within me. He put me in that particular place, that very moment. And He strengthened me with his grace and gave me the power of his Resurrection.
So I surrender to His will and witness to his love.
This is how we transform society, through lives conformed to the Paschal Mystery.
I offer up my suffering so that it can be redemptive.
I die to self by conquering sin.
And I call on the power of the Resurrection to transform my little corner of the world, wherever God happens to place me.
I pray that each of you be conformed more perfectly to Jesus through His Paschal Mystery so that you may bring the power of the Resurrection to your little corner of the world.
Fr. George Nowak, C.R.