ONLINE
MARCH 29, 2004

 

 

 

In His Light

by Bishop Allen H. Vigneron

The resurrection is His vindication and our joy

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

It was on Sunday, the day dedicated to the weekly celebration of Easter, that St. John, the “Seer” of the Book of Revelation, saw “a Lamb standing, a Lamb that had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).
As we come to our yearly celebration of the Lord’s Pasch, I feel that I can do no better to help us get the right focus for this greatest of all feast days than to direct everyone’s attention to that Lamb, once slaughtered, once “slain,” but now alive, now “standing.”

Clearly St. John’s vision is of Christ risen from the dead. In speaking of the Lord in this way, St. John is reaffirming the witness of the apostles and other disciples to Christ’s resurrection.
Whether this testimony was given in their writings in the New Testament or in their preaching which is even older, the message is the same: the historical, flesh-and-blood person they knew, Jesus of Nazareth, truly died, and that same man is no longer dead, but He lives in the flesh. The tomb was empty! There is no corpse! Christ is risen!

I call your attention to St. John’s witness to this good news in the fifth chapter of Revelations, because that testimony has two particular implications which, when we consider them, greatly heighten the joy and gratitude that should mark our Easter Feast.

First, St. John’s vision underscores that fact that Jesus’ resurrection is the climax of His work of atoning for our sins. The one whom John sees “standing” is none other than the “Lamb once slain.”
The risen one is He who was sacrificed to “take away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29, cf. Is. 53:12). He is the one who “was wounded for our transgressions,” whose “chastisement made us whole” Is. 53:5-6).
The resurrection of Christ is His vindication, the proof that His Heavenly Father was pleased with His self-offering on Calvary. Christ’s triumph over sin and death, achieved on that first Easter Sunday, was won by His death on Good Friday.

We cannot afford to become foggy about the unbreakable connection between the cross and the resurrection.
The gift of new life now available to the Lord’s disciples was won by the sacrifice of His passion and death. Eternal life is a gift, a grace for sinners, not an entitlement for “decent folks,” for the self-righteous.
In celebrating and accepting anew our share in the eternal life of the risen Christ, we have to recognize this new existence as a deliverance from sin and the death which sin, my sin, deserves.

We came to life in Him by baptism in the water that flowed from His pierced side as he hung upon the cross (cf. Jn. 19:34).

Christ’s winning eternal life for us came at a price -— a terrible price, but one He willingly paid -– because we are sinners. So, let us lay hold of His gift with deepest gratitude and exultant joy.

Second, St. John’s vision of the standing Lamb that was slain points to another unbreakable connection - the link between Easter and the Eucharist.

To call Jesus the “Lamb” is to give Him a name that encapsulates what He said about Himself at the Last Supper: that His body was to be “given for us,” that His blood is the “blood of the new and everlasting covenant shed for us.”

Christ, the Lamb once slain now standing, is most fully present to His disciples in the Eucharistic sacrifice, in the sacred rite He established on the night before He died for us.

The link between the resurrection and the Eucharist implied in St. John’s vision underscores that the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most fitting way to celebrate Easter.

Our memorial of Christ’s death and rising there reaches its consummation in our accepting His living body and blood as our food and drink. In feeding on the Lamb once slain but now standing, we, too, become immortal.

We grow in His risen life by the Eucharist, for there we drink from the blood that flowed from His pierced side on Calvary (cf. Jn. 19:34). Our flesh becomes one with His body, and in our blood courses His victory over death.

And so, my prayer for all of you is that as you participate in the Holy Mass on Easter Sunday you will receive the Holy Eucharist with hearts on fire with thanksgiving and joy: thanksgiving that Jesus has loved us to the end, so that now we have life in Him; joy because we will live with Him forever.

Happy Easter to you and your loved ones. May the light and peace which Christ won for us by His Passover fill your hearts and your homes.

 

Official newspaper of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Oakland, California encompassing all of
Alameda &
Contra Costa counties.

BISHOP
VIGNERON