Thursday, 07 April 2022 13:41

How you can authentically live out the Easter season and beyond

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Special to Catholic Times 

“Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old things have passed away, behold, new things have come. All this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation … so we are ambassadors of Christ, as if God were appealing through us” (2nd Corinthians 5:17-20).

The apostle Paul speaks frequently in his letters of entering a new creation, of allowing the mind and heart and attitude of the risen Christ to take over us, to “put on Christ.” This putting on of Christ began at our baptism and unfolds throughout our lives. We are aware that this takes place symbolically in clothing the newly baptized with a white robe. Indeed, across our diocese at the Vigil of Easter, more than one hundred people were to be so clothed in being initiated into the life of Christ and his Body, the Church.

But what does this putting on of Christ, this entering a “new creation” look like? The word of God this past Lent gives us some clues, one of which stands out in particular I find this year. It is compassion that ushers forth in forgiveness. Whether during liturgy, in personal prayer, study, or prayerful reading, many have the experience of listening to the word of God in a fresh way, of being struck by passages that are so familiar, yet one seems to really hear them for the first time.

I found such to be true this past Lent. The powerful and recklessly lavish parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the electrifying encounter of the woman accused of adultery (John 8:1-11), or the cultivation of an attitude of compassion in Jesus’ saying to forgive “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). Again, we hear at times the familiar in a different or striking way given the circumstances of our lives and our world. 

I have come to see that the distinguishing mark of a disciple of Jesus, the sign that we have put on Christ, that Christ is taking us over, of entering a new creation as Paul speaks of, is compassion. Compassion that ushers forth in forgiveness. Such takes work. Such takes discipline. Such an attitude of compassionate forgiveness is a focus not only for Lent or even Eastertime, but for all our days. How that plays itself out in our lives is as unique as each one of us. But the freedom and freshness of spirit that such forgiveness brings are a taste of the new creation into which we are continuously invited. Such gifts! Easter blessings in the risen Lord!

Father Robert Jallas is pastor of St. Mary Parish in Edwardsville.