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True faith: let go and let God

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Q: Archbishop J, the Paschal mystery: how does it relate to family life? (Pt III)

What is the Resurrection if it does not transform the way we live as a family? Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a living religion. It informs the way we relate and live and open our hearts to grace and mercy.

In this time of Easter, we need to ask the hard question: Does my family live in the power of the Resurrection of Christ?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

Christ’s Resurrection—and the risen Christ himself—is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.… For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfilment. In Christ, Christians “have tasted … the powers of the age to come” and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (655).

Let us explore this in terms of the family.

Christ: Principle and Source

If we believe that God raised Christ from the dead, then our belief would impact our lives. We would not be afraid to die or to die to ourselves for the sake of the other. At the heart of the Paschal mystery is the total self-emptying of Jesus. On the night before He died, He gave all to His Father. At prayer in the garden, falling to His face He said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39).

This surrendering of will to God represents a complete abandonment and trust in the Father. If I have this trust in the Father, then I do not need to secure anything for myself.

This is true freedom: knowing that all is in God’s hands and all will be well. I do not need to secure my life, because it is God who is the source and foundation of my life.

Think of the useless quarrels. What brings them about? I guess we believe we have to preserve our life; to win at all costs; to exert our wills; to demonstrate we are valuable. They begin with a desire that is unmet or unrealised.

Here is what St James says:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (Jas 4:1–3).

If we believe that Christ is the principle and source of our future resurrection, would we be so wilful? Would we continue to fight and struggle for things that are not really important? If each one knew his or her true dignity as a child of God, would we take things so personally?

If God in Christ is raising our mortal bodies from the dead, then each moment is an opportunity for living in the power of the Resurrection. That is to see, in the moment, our trust in the risen Christ is far more important than our wilfulness. “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mk 14:36).

In the act of abandonment, is the act of faith in the Resurrection. Being willing to let go into God, also demonstrates true faith. God raised Jesus from the dead, so death has no more sting or power over me. Jesus is the first fruit; I too am called to participate in the Resurrection of Jesus.


Death in Adam, Life in Christ

As Christians, we have a choice: we can belong to Adam or to Christ.

When we choose our lesser self by exerting our authority or will, or to be dominant; when we become demanding or unforgiving or selfish and put ourselves first, we are children of Adam.

To belong to Christ, we gaze on the risen Christ in His humility and love and build a filial relationship with Him, begging Him to transform us into another Christ. This is not being perfect, but it is being dependent upon Christ and in deep relationship with Christ who is risen.

What does it mean to say that we will be made alive in Christ? When we look at our inadequacies and our foibles: when we see the many ways death has stalked us in our character and choices, we will not despair. We will know that God and God alone will raise us from this mortal body doomed to death.

When husband and wife recognise the weakness and frailty of their condition and turn their gaze to Christ who is risen, then both have a chance to experience the transforming power of Christ in their lives and in their marriage.

Then marriage moves from being a contract to being a sacrament—a portal of grace. With spouses focused on the risen Christ, the children see a vital connection between life and spirituality.


Live for Christ

The last part of the text says: … “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised”. This is the fundamental question. Who are you living for? Are you living for yourself or for Christ? This makes a world of difference.

If I am living for Christ then my prayer, study, and generosity will lead me to sharing God’s love with others—especially the family. This means that in things little and big, you raise your eyes to Christ and seek His will.

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