Rev. Fr. James Kroeger
“Year of Faith” Reflections
ALL human life has a paschal configuration; simply, this means that our life patterns continually move through death to renewed life. Human existence clearly reflects a “paschal paradigm.” In our daily lives, we struggle to move through darkness to light, through captivity to freedom, through suffering and brokenness to wholeness, from loneliness to communion, from sin to grace and new life.
We, as faith-filled Christians, struggle to follow the path traced out for us by Christ in his paschal mystery. Each year during Holy Week we walk—in deep faith—with our suffering savior. We enter with Christ into his passion and death; then, through his resurrection we share joyously in his new life.
Living the paschal mystery in daily life demands profound faith, an intimate relationship with our suffering-risen savior. We encounter Christ in his redemptive paschal mystery; we also strive to be in solidarity with all humanity on its path of suffering.
Grasping the Paschal Mystery also means recognizing that at the core of Christian faith is the Resurrection. Saint Paul clearly states: “If Christ has not been raised then our preaching is useless and your believing is also useless” (I Cor 15:14). It is certain: Our Christian faith ultimately stands or falls on the Resurrection.
To appreciate the beauty of resurrection faith, one could reflect on the “divine reversal” that happens at Easter. What appeared as death’s victory on Good Friday is reversed by Christ’s triumph over the grave. In his paschal mystery Christ takes humanity’s pride and sinfulness and changes them into an opportunity for grace; God does not return evil for offense committed against him; he answers with love. Adam’s sin that brought death is reversed by Christ’s humble obedience—even unto death. Marvel at the unfathomable love of God!
One might also ask: do faith and doubt mix? Were they present in the lives of the first Christians? The apostle Thomas is probably the most well-known “doubter.” He demands that he touch Christ’s wounds—before he accept that Jesus is risen (Jn 20:19-29). We, like Thomas, are often “show-me” Christians, demanding “proof” before coming to believe.
In his 2013 Easter Vigil homily Pope Francis noted our hesitancy to believe: “We are afraid of God’s surprises; we are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us…. Let us not be closed to the newness that God wishes to bring into our lives! Are we weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence.”
Pope Francis, clearly aware that we believers do not live immune to doubts and challenges to our faith, speaks to us even as we live the paradoxes of the Paschal Mystery. “Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! … May he open us to the newness that transforms… May he help us to feel his presence as the one who is alive and at work in our midst.” This is Paschal faith!