Father Stefan reflects on Pope Francis ‘Joy of the Gospel’ The mysterious working of the risen Christ and His Spirit

Pope Francis writes, “Some people do not commit themselves to mission because they think that nothing will change and that it is useless to make the effort. They think: ‘Why should I deny myself  my comforts and pleasures if I won’t see and significant results?’ This attitude makes it impossible to be a missionary. It is only a malicious excuse for remaining caught up in comfort, laziness, vague dissatisfaction, and empty selfishness. It is a self destructive attitude, for ‘man cannot live without hope: life would become meaningless and unbearable.’ If we think that things are not going to change, we need to recall that Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death and is now almighty. Jesus Christ truly lives. Put another way: ‘if  Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain.’ (1 Cor 15:14) The Gospel tells us that when the first disciples went forth to preach, ‘the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message.’ (Mk 16:20) The same thing happens today. We are invited to discover this, to experience it. Christ, risen and glorified, is the wellspring of our hope,and he will not deprive us of the help we need to carry out the mission which he has entrusted to us.” 

Pope Benedict in his book, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, wrote “The New Testament testimonies leave us in no doubt that what happened in the ‘Resurrection of the Son of Man’ was utterly different. Jesus’ Resurrection was about breaking out into an entirely new form of life, into a life that is no longer subject to the law of dying and becoming, but lies beyond it – a life that opens up new dimension of human existence. Therefore the Resurrection of Jesus is not an isolated event that we could set aside as something limited to the past, but it constitutes an ‘evolutionary leap.’ In Jesus’ Resurrection a new possibility of human existence is attained that affects everyone and that opens up a future, a new kind of future, for mankind. So Paul was absolutely right to link the resurrection of Christians and the Resurrection of Jesus inseparably together: ‘If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised…But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ (1 Cor 15: 16,20) Christ’s  Resurrection is either a universal event, or it is nothing. Paul tells us. And only if we understand it as a universal event, as the opening up if a new dimension of human existence.”

Everything has changed with the Resurrection. Jesus’ Resurrection has open up a future, a new kind of future. Easter is the greatest feast in the Church. When we eat the body of Christ we are eating the Resurrected Body of Christ. Jesus says, “He who eats my body and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” When we eat the Body of Christ we have eternal life now. St Ignatius of Antioch called the Eucharist, ‘The medicine of immortality’ because by virtue of Jesus’ Resurrection he has conquered sin and death, So when we receive the Eucharist, this medicine of immortality, we have in the present eternal life, and we will be raised up on the last day. Amen Alleluia. 

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