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042620 Third Sunday in Easter - Fr. Reggie

God teaches us many things about himself through Christ's resurrection.

One of them is that he will never fail us.

This is the main point of St Peter's discourse from the Book of Acts. He explains how Christ's resurrection was the fulfillment of the solemn Old Testament promise that a descendent of King David would reign forever over God's people. Now that Christ has conquered death, he can reign forever. The Resurrection is God's definitive proof that he is faithful, that he can be trusted. We need doubt no more.

Today's Psalm proclaims the same truth. David writes: "I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed." In Biblical language, the right hand always symbolizes activity and strength. David says in this Psalm that if he keeps God at his right hand, if he trusts in God and depends on God's strength to guide and protect him, then he will never be disturbed, never stumble never be vanquished by life's troubles, sorrows, or enemies - just as Christ was not vanquished even by all the forces of evil that were arrayed against him and seemed to have conquered him.

And St Peter's Letter in the Second Reading tells us the same thing.  Christ's passion and resurrection prove that our redemption is not "perishable", not shaky and undependable, but solid and a worthy foundation for our faith and hope, which "are in God," not in the fragile things of this world.

And in the Gospel, Jesus himself goes after his straying sheep, bringing them back to the flock, just to prove that he will never abandon us.

If we let God into our life and follow him, he will never fail us.

This seems to be the lesson most often repeated in the Old Testament - it's almost like a constant refrain. David conquers Goliath because he knows that God is fighting at his side. Joshua defeats army after army because he counts on God's promise, "I will be with you." Judith and Esther both single-handedly save the entire Israelite people from total destruction because they put their trust in God, who never abandons his people. Even the three young men who were thrown into the fire by the Babylonian Emperor Nebuchadnezzar -God's protecting, faithful presence was so real that when the Emperor peeked into the furnace to watch his prisoners roast, he saw not just the three prisoners walking freely around, but a fourth person as well - an angel of God, keeping them safe. The very name of God in the Old Testament, which God revealed to Moses at the burning bush, contains this meaning of faithful companionship. He called himself, "I am." But in Hebrew, that verb doesn't primarily mean being in the philosophical sense, but being in the sense of being present. God tells Moses, "I am the one who is always present and at your side, the one you can count on." This is the name he takes more directly in the New Testament: Emmanuel - God is with us. In the Psalms, one of the metaphors used most frequently to describe God is calling him, "the rock," the firm place that we can stand on with confidence, that will never be shaken. Psalm 36 describes God's faithful companionship as being as firm as the mountains.

All these Old Testament lessons were just images of, hints of, preparations for the definitive proof that God is a companion who will never fail those who put their trust in him. 

And that definitive proof was Christ's resurrection.

God is a companion who will never fail us. 

If we walk through life with himvictory over evil and unhappiness is assured.

The most practical application of this fundamental Christian truth has to do with how Christians react to tragedy and suffering. We know that God can bring good even out of the greatest evils, just as he brought salvation and the Resurrection out of the horrible failure of the Crucifixion. As a result, we have strength to weather any storm that comes our way. We don't have to understand why God permits certain hardships and sufferings, because we already know that in the end he will never let us down.

The Christian can pray, persevere, and find hope even amidst tears and terrible darkness, because we know that Christ's victory will be ours, if we stay by his side.

And staying by his side is not complicated. It means three things. It means an ongoing effort to grow in our prayer and sacramental life. It means an ongoing effort to understand and follow Church teaching, both about faith and about moral issues. And it means an ongoing effort to be like Christ in our own lives - in the excellence of our work, the dependability of our character, and the self-sacrificing faithfulness of our relationships. To pray, to follow Church teaching, and to imitate Christ in our daily lives. This is how we stay close to Christ, our faithful companion, who is leading us to a share in his eternal victory.

In this Mass, when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, let's thank our Lord for the great gift of his friendship, and let's promise that we will never again try to walk through life alone.

 

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