“I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me.”
The great Octave of Easter concluded with Divine Mercy Sunday, one of Pope St. John Paul the Great’s many gifts to the Church. During these last few weeks we have been graphically reminded of the gifts to us of the Eucharistic Lord, of the saving Passion and Death of the Son of God, of His glorious Resurrection, and finally, of the gift of His Divine Mercy. We have watched with delight as men and women decided to join their lives to ours, receiving Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, and even Matrimony. We just witnessed as our bishop called down the grandeur and power of the Holy Spirit and confirmed young men and women from Christ the King and our two associated parishes, fully initiating them into the life of His Church, that they may truly live for Him and serve Him with all their lives. Finally, we just had the great joy of participating in the reception of the Eucharistic Lord for more of our precious kids.
This has been a time of great grace for us. But like all times of grace, what we are able to receive of His gifts depends significantly on how open we are to receiving it. Do we as adults mirror the excitement of our brothers and sisters as they entered the Church, or the youthful exuberance of our teens as they received the Holy Spirit, or the sweet delight in our kids as they received Him in the Eucharist for the first time?
These events have certainly been a high point for many of us, especially the families directly involved, but what does the Lord Jesus call us to in the midst of all this? We know, even as we have heard in the Liturgy of the Hours’ Office of Readings this week, in the Letters to the Churches proclaimed by St. John in Revelation, that one of the great risks we all face is to lose our first love, that first love we had for the King. Hopefully, as we lived through the great liturgies of these past weeks, our love for the Lord Jesus was even more strengthened in our hearts.
Frankly, I think we all need to be strengthened these days. Speaking personally, the last two years have been among the most trying I have ever experienced. Hardest to bear was to see the division among the followers of the Lord Jesus—divided over pandemic issues, liturgical issues, political issues, etc., etc.—almost seeming to forget that what we bear in common as brothers and sisters in Christ is far greater than those things that attempt to divide us.
As we now spend these next several weeks rejoicing in the Resur- rection, we are also called to prepare for Pentecost, especially that the great unity which is the Spirit’s particular gift to the Church can be restored among us. If we strive to cooperate with Him and make it the plea of our hearts that He restores that unity that the King of Kings prayed for and died for, then we will see it restored. We who are unit- ed by our Baptisms and unified especially by our reception of the Eucharistic Lord around His holy Altar in the heart of His Church are called by Him and constituted by Him to be one family. This was the unity He prayed for even at His Last Supper, when He gave us the great agent of that unity, His Eucharistic Presence.
During the Easter Vigil we were reminded that it was as if He rescued us from the slavery of Egypt to bring us into His Promised Land. He has indeed rescued us from so many things; so many slaveries that constantly attempt to reassert themselves. This is why St. Paul stridently reminds the Galatians “not to submit again to a yoke of slavery.” The snake constantly seeks to enslave what the Son has set free. He enslaves us with his “divide and conquer” approach, constantly trying to damage or even destroy the unity that the King and the Holy Spirit are working in our hearts. Let us cling to the King during this holy time. Let us plead with Him to prepare us for even more of the Holy Spirit so that we can be strong and, this time, resist the tempta- tions to disunity, as we proclaim, “I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me.” — Fr. Ed Fride