Easter this year comes in the wake of a number of events that could have shaken our faith: terrorist attacks in Belgium and elsewhere, the spotlight on mishandling of child abuse within the Catholic Church or personal disappointments, failures or setbacks.
However, Easter is our yearly (and joyful) reminder that our faith is built not on something earthly or human but on Jesus Christ who proved to be stronger, mightier and more powerful than the forces of evil, sin and death. Even though Jesus died, Death could not hold Jesus as He burst from the tomb on Easter Sunday morning; Evil could not hold Jesus down either and, no matter what our sins did to Jesus on Good Friday, Jesus came back with even more forgiveness, mercy and peace. All these gifts Jesus continues to give to us through the Church in the Sacraments and also through us into the world around us.
So, if our faith in the human leadership of the Church has been shaken, that can be justified because it is human. However, Jesus Christ is ultimately the Head of the Church even though He chooses to work through leaders who are very human and prone to make mistakes and sin like the rest of us. Our faith in the Church rests solely on Jesus Christ who is still very much alive and active within His Church. As a saying goes, don’t leave Jesus because of Judas. The events of Good Friday show us just how weak, feeble and unfaithful the Twelve Apostles could be (with one exception – John) yet Jesus chooses to build His Church upon these imperfect men. Our faith in the Church, then, is not primarily based on human leaders but in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead working through them.
Sometimes our faith can be shaken by our own personal failures, weaknesses and faults. It’s something that the first generations of Christians had to grapple with. While Baptism granted forgiveness of sins, it didn’t necessarily remove our ability to sin. However, it was realized over time that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is how our sins are continually forgiven all throughout our lives and, every time we receive that Sacrament, we are washed clean from our sins as we were when we were baptized. That is the power of God’s mercy: as long as we are sorry, God can forgive us of any sin through the Risen One. Our sins can get us down in our faith but our belief in the power of the mercy and forgiveness of God shown in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ can unburden us, lift us up and help us keep walking stronger in our faith.
The world we live in is beautiful but is also imperfect and there is no denying there are many aspects of the world we live that can shake our faith. From terrorism to natural disasters to other sad and tragic events in life, it’s easy to become weakened in our faith. In Jesus rising from the dead, God shows that death, evil and sin do not ultimately have the last word but that God does and so it is Life, Love and Goodness that has and will win out in the end even though it doesn’t seem that way at times. In the Resurrection, we can hope that even in the darkest, most hopeless and tragic events there is Someone who is still greater than all of that, who can still bring good out of it and is with us every step of the way giving us encouragement, strength and peace.
Faith in the Resurrection does not take our troubles away but it can give us hope, strength, purpose and meaning as we face them and work through them. We can look in the face of all that could cripple our faith: death, evil and sin; and still be confident that God’s power, goodness and mercy is still stronger even though the forces of darkness can seem rather strong at times. The Resurrection is proof of that. If Christ rose from the dead, then He is stronger, mightier and more powerful than what seem to be the strongest and darkest forces of this world. It’s Good News and it is The Good News that we’re all called to share and live in our lives. Best of all, the Risen Christ is still and will always be with us in His Church and in our lives and that’s worth celebrating in every sacrament, in every Mass and every Sunday. Alleluia!
Written by Fr Brennan Sia
Archdiocesan Youth Chaplain