How often we hear that the New Evangelization requires a new ardor, new expressions and new methods. Let’s reflect on new ardor. Synonyms for ardor include passion, love, enthusiasm and zeal. Our message is not new. We proclaim “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). But newness is required in our presentation. Is our proclamation lackluster, lazy, half-hearted or is it passionate, enthusiastic, rooted in love and zeal?
The Easter season is a good time to reflect on our zeal and enthusiasm, our passion and love for the Gospel. The Gospels make it clear that once the risen Lord is encountered, the good news of His Resurrection needs to be shared. All of us, priests, parents, the first educators of their children in the ways of faith, Catholic school teachers and catechists in our faith formation programs — all of us — need to be on fire with the message of the Gospel. The message truly is good news. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to redeem us. Jesus loved us so much that He embraced His Father’s will and gave up His life for us. Death, however, was overcome by new life. Jesus rose from the dead. In Him we too carry the seeds of new life. So real is this new life St. Paul tells us we have died with Christ and risen with Him. “In baptism you were not only buried with him but also raised to life in him because you believed in the power of God who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12).
Pope Benedict often reminded us that hope is a key word in Biblical faith, “so much so that in several passages the words ‘faith’ and ‘hope’ seem to be unchangeable. . . . The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been gifted with new life” (Spe Salvi, #2). Thus our faith in the Lord’s Resurrection, our hope that one day we will be raised with Him changes the way we live. In the midst of trials and tribulations, in the midst of confusion and doubt, we know that by the grace of our baptism we enjoy a new life that will come to full glory in eternal life. “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known” (1Cor. 13:12).
In a recent general audience message, Pope Francis told us the death and Resurrection of Jesus are the heart of our hope. “The Resurrection opens us to hope, for it opens our life and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin and death may be overcome. . . . Let us have the courage to come out of ourselves to take this joy and this light to all the places of our life! How can we not share this treasure, this certainty with others? It is not only for us. It is to be passed on, to be shared with others” (General Audience, April 3, 2013).
Caryll Houselander, an English Catholic laywoman, artist and author, put it this way: “The ultimate miracle of divine Love is this, that the life of the Risen Lord is given to us to give to one another. It is to be lived through our natural human relationships, through the people we know, the neighbors we see. It is given to us, if we will take it, literally into our own hands to give” (Caryll Houselander,
A Rocking Horse Catholic).
During the Easter season, I encourage you to consider prayerfully the accounts of the daily and Sunday readings proclaimed at Mass. Return also to the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection. The Risen Christ and our life in Him are the good news. This good news needs to be rooted in our hearts so that we can proclaim it with genuine sincerity and zeal. We cannot give to others what we do not have. Thus the fire of the good news needs to be kindled in our hearts. And we need to stoke the fire by daily prayer, the regular reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist and an active charity that reaches out to others.
If you have a prayer intention you would like me to consider during the weeks ahead, please mail it to my attention at 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202.