www.herald-journal.com
The pinnacle of our faith
April 25, 2011
by Father Tom Balluff, St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, Delano

Happy Easter to all in this wonderful Easter season! Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!

On Easter Sunday, we celebrated perhaps the most important event in the history of humanity. It is the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead after a painful passion, bringing victory over sin and death, opening the gates of heaven for all of us.

Easter is really the pinnacle of our faith. Without our belief in the resurrection of Christ, our faith would be meaningless. And so, in most places, we have set aside the eight days following Easter Sunday for celebrating this great event.

We call these eight days the Octave of Easter. It is a time of feasting and celebration. We wear white garments at church to show our joy and peace, knowing that our Lord has come to us and now has saved us from our sins. We are a people of life, of new life that comes with living out our faith daily in honoring this great sacrifice of love.

The Easter season continues for 50 days. After His death and resurrection, Jesus traveled all around Judea and Galilee, revealing his deep love for the apostles and all who are willing to accept and believe in Him as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus appeared to the apostles without Thomas being present at first. The other Apostles witnessed to the resurrection for Thomas, but he refused to believe. In order to believe, Thomas said, he must place his finger in the wounds of Jesus’ hands and the pierced side of Jesus. Later, Jesus appears to all of them, this time with Thomas present. Jesus invites Thomas to place his finger in the wounds, into the nail marks in His hands, and in His pierced side, so that he might believe. Jesus takes Thomas where he is at and helps him to overcome his disbelief.

He does the same with Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times during the passion. The wound of this sin was very deep. And yet, when Jesus came along on the beach, after the resurrection, He met up with them, cooking some fish and eating it with them to help them see that it was indeed Him. Jesus finally asked Peter, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” Peter responds “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus then says “Then feed my sheep.” Jesus asks Peter this three times, reaching into the depths of the pain from the wounds of the denials and heals Peter at the roots of his sin.

Our Lord loves us all very much and there is nothing that He will not forgive or cannot heal when we place our trust and confidence in His love for us, and when we are sorry for our sins.

Towards the end of the Easter season will be Jesus’ ascension into heaven and His sending to us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. The apostles will still be very much afraid, fearful and insecure before the coming of the Holy Spirit. But then, Tongues of Fire will come down on each of them, filling them with courage and strength, healing and zeal. The Holy Spirit will come alive in their hearts in what we call the celebration of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. The apostles will now have the courage and strength, the confidence and trust in God to go out to all the world, spreading this new religion that will be called Christianity.

This mission continues with each one of us to this very day. We are all called to share this beautiful love from God to all of humanity, to transform this world from darkness into His wonderful light. We are called to become beacons of light to a world that mostly doesn’t understand authentic Christ-like love.

Let us be brave and courageous in bringing this message to all who will hear it, with a child-like trust and confidence in a God that loves us all very much.