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Holding On Versus Going Forth


“The devil, darkness, and death may swagger and boast, the pangs of life will sting for a while longer, but don’t worry; the forces of evil are breathing their last. Not to worry…He’s risen!“ ~ Charles R. Swindoll

On this the Tuesday within the Octave of Easter, our 1st Reading today (Acts 2:36-41), yesterday too as a matter of fact (Acts 2:14, 22-23), transports us back to another formative Christian event, the Pentecost. it is here that Peter has taken it upon himself to address the large crowd in his midst, doing so with great zeal, knowledge, and clarity.

“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified,” Peter proclaims, leaving the throngs in a state of great distress. Sensing this, he urges them to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you,in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In doing so, the intrepid Rock of our Church proclaims the very essence of the Catholic Message as he implores them to save themselves from what he calls this “corrupt generation.”

Sound familiar? I would imagine every generation from Peter to present day would say that it does, that they too live in a corrupt generation. But Baptism is the remedy. Through the waters of the baptismal font, wherein God wields his power and declares his dominion over the lost children of Adam and Eve, we come to realize that sin, or death for that matter, no longer has power over us. As baptized children of God, we belong to His Kingdom, no longer subject to the despair and hopelessness of Satan’s lies and manipulation. In the closing words of today’s passage we come to learn that about 3,000 people were baptized as a result of Peter’s efforts.

In today’s Gospel (John 20:11-18), we revisit Mary Magdalene and her mysterious encounter with the risen Jesus at the site of his tomb It’s interesting to note that it is only when Jesus calls her by name, as he does each of us, that she recognizes her beloved Savior.
“Stop holding on to me,” Jesus urges her in what at first sounds like an abrupt rebuke, “for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary promptly departs and does what Jesus tells her to do, what he tells all of us to do actually:

Proclaim the risen Jesus.

As we emerge from the Easter Triduum and contemplate the Easter days ahead, basking in the newness of rebirth we must be refreshed and renewed by the Holy Spirit. There’s a temptation to retreat into the familiarity of our Catholic Faith traditions as a means of escape from a world that is growing increasingly more troublesome by the day. But this is not our calling nor do we have the luxury to retreat. We are called instead to evangelize, to live the faith. To defend God’s truth against those who hate it and thus seek to eliminate it.

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May our actions and intentions continue to proclaim the Easter message today and every day. For as the great Saint John Paul II was so fond of saying, “We are the Easter people. And Hallelujah is our song.”

“O God, who has united the many nations in confessing your name, grant that those reborn in the font of Baptism may be one in the faith of their hearts and the homage of their deeds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” ~ Amen

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