Second Sunday of Easter: A Collect Reflection
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The Second Sunday of Easter
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In Christian theology, a ‘mystery’ happens when two or more truths that cannot be easily synthesized into some verbal statement are held together nonetheless. We believe both of them because they are both said to be true by Holy Scripture. Simply stated, a mystery holds together truths that we may not know how to harmonize into one. A mystery is beyond us.
Some examples of mysteries:
- Jesus is both God and man.
- Jesus is God and yet he died.
- Jesus truly died and yet he rose again.
- Jesus died for our sins even though he was sinless.
- Baptism is water that God uses to wash our souls.
- The bread and wine of communion are the body and blood of Christ.
These are all mysteries.
We know these things to be true, and we affirm them. Yet there remains a mystery because we won’t be able to apprehend them fully until we are resurrected (and even then we will grow in our understanding). We hold them together by faith and state all of these truths to be true.
The Paschal Mystery
The Paschal mystery is the confession that Christ died, Christ rose again, and Christ will come again.
The word ‘Paschal’ comes from the Jewish Passover feast. The death of Christ is the Christians Passover moment. That’s why the early church called the Good Friday/Easter Day cycle “Pascha” or “Passover.”
So the Paschal mystery is the work Christ did to save us. And that work reconciles us with God by establishing a new covenant.
It is important for us to remember that God isn’t being reconciled to us. We are being reconciled to him.
We are the ones who are estranged.
God loves us. He made us. He is a forgiving God. He loves us so much that he came to us in the flesh in the person of Jesus to take upon himself all the wrath, sorrow, sin, and pain of the world. That’s how God shows his just nature, by destroying anything that divides us from him. He breaks down walls of separation. He takes the penalties of sin upon himself. He makes himself the ultimate sacrifice. That’s who he is.
We’re the ones who have been afraid of him, but he breaks down the wall of hostility.
The new covenant of reconciliation is a free gift of God’s grace that establishes a promise for us, for our children, and for all whom the Lord will call. The new covenant, like the old covenant, has a sign. This sign enacts or makes happen the effect of the covenant. It is the means whereby God applies to covenant to us. This sign is our baptism.
Baptism is also part of the Paschal mystery. In it, we die with Christ and are raised again to new life. This is when we are reborn into a new fellowship – Christ’s body.
Our Mysterious Lives
This mystery doesn’t stop there. The power of the crucified and risen Christ is not only in word, but also in deed. The new covenant mystery does its work in our hearts. It changes us.
As we profess this Faith, the Holy Spirit begins to show it forth in our lives.
What do we show forth?
First, the crucified God. We must never forget that our God is not a God of pride but of humility. The crucifix is the ultimate symbol of his power. So when we show forth our Faith, it isn’t through dominance, it is through the peaceful power of servant love. It is a kind of peaceful, yet powerful, resistance to the world’s false power of dominance and destruction.
Second, we show the mystery of our Faith every time we repent honestly. Any masks we wear will come off as we profess this true mystery.
And third, we will show forth the faith as we witness Jesus Christ. We need to tell people about Jesus. We don’t just believe in a generic “god”. We believe in the particular God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Of course, there are so many ways to tell people. And we don’t need to fall into an easy “decisionism” in which we try to rack up our own points by getting people to say a prayer. Yet every person who saw Jesus after his resurrection became a powerful witness. So don’t just profess the Faith in church on Sunday, profess it in your life by speaking the words of Jesus to others, and by being Jesus to them too.
And all of this is still a great mystery. Why have so many people from so many cultures and times responded to the Paschal mystery with faith in Christ? It’s a beautiful mystery that remains every powerful to reconcile people to God and each other. Fear not!
The Mysterious Peace of the Trinity
Finally, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit reign. Whenever we hear that we should “show forth” something in our lives, we may immediately feel some anxiety. We may assume that since God has done so much for us, now he is demanding that we respond by doing something for him!
We must oppose this oppressive thinking in the strongest terms. The love of God is catching us up in his mysteries. He is filling us up and healing us, and loving us. As the fruit of this profession blossoms in our lives, he is right there with us. The Holy Spirit is working and he gives us peace, not anxiety. Trust yourself to the mysteries of Christ! He will bear fruit.
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