A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy
BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 18)
Easter Sunday, Year A – March 27, 2005
“The Risen Christ Lives On”
Acts 10:34a, 37-43 // Col 3:1-4 or I Cor 5:6b-8 // Jn 20:1-9
I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS
This year is the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of El Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero, the defender and the voice of the poor (cf. James R. Borckman, “The Day of Infamy” in MARYKNOLL magazine, March 2005, p. 6-9). He was celebrating the Eucharist in the chapel of the Divine Providence Hospital in San Salvador in the evening of March 24, 1980 for the deceased mother of his friend, Jorge Pinto, when he was assassinated. The last words that he spoke were part of the short homily that he gave during that last Mass he celebrated on earth: “Whoever out of love for Christ give themselves to the service of others will live, like the grain of wheat that dies – but only apparently. If it did not die, it would remain alone. Only in undoing itself does it produce the harvest … This holy Mass, this Eucharist, is an act of faith. With Christian faith we know that at this moment the wheat host is changed into the body of the Lord, who offered himself for the world’s redemption, and in this chalice the wine is transformed into the blood that was the price of salvation. May this body immolated and this blood sacrificed for humans nourish us also, so that we may give our body and blood to suffering and pain - like Christ, not for self, but to teach justice and peace to our people.” After inviting the people to pray for Sarita, the deceased, and for each one, a shot rang out. The killer’s bullet entered his left breast and lodged in his back. He was rushed to the emergency room, but as he lay on a table, strangling on his own blood, he stopped gasping and died.
Today a mural on the outside wall of Divine Providence Hospital in El Salvador depicts Archbishop Romero rising among his people and evokes his prophetic words: “If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people.” Linda Unger, the REVISTA MARYKNOLL editor interviewed Salvadorans whose lives have been influenced by Bishop Romero. Rosa Marisel Irahita, 16 years old, said: “It is often said they killed Monsignor Romero, but from the beginning he gave his life so it could be a seed of liberation so that we young people would follow his example. We in our group, Romeristas of San Eladio, feel that he is alive. How do we show that? By our works: theater, dance, talks at schools and spreading the word. He showed us something very important: what it is to have dignity, something that many young people lack.”
A housewife, Maria Concepcion de Suela testifies: “ For me, he was the pastor who knew how to welcome the poor … I have passed his life on to my children. He and all our martyrs inspire us to continue the struggle. When I speak of them, I say we must not lose faith and hope, since that would betray those who gave their lives.”
Antonio Flores, a member of the San Salvador Christian community Pueblo de Dios en Camino, reiterates the truth that Bishop Romero rises again in the Salvadoran people: “Perhaps it would be a little selfish to talk of our Monsignor Romero, because he belongs to the world. The Christian community to which we belong here in San Ramon wants to be the voice for the poor that he talked about. Monsignor said that as Christians we had to be that voice. If he were here alive with us now, he would say the same thing. So, we want to support life, which is what Monsignor Romero taught us. We feel that his spirit and the spirit of all the martyrs are with us and that is what drives us. Here Monsignor Romero is risen. The light shone through him, but the darkness could not stand it. Now, the light is shining anew, and we are this light.”
Indeed, Archbishop Romero’s total configuration to the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and rising is complete. The unique mystery of the death and rising of Jesus Christ, the King of martyrs, is the principle of Romero’s death and resurrection, and his living on in the life of the Salvadoran people. The paschal mystery in the life of Romero and the Salvadoran people is made possible only because this wondrous saving mystery had been accomplished in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Indeed, one of the bible readings used by Archbishop Romero at his last Mass on earth was about Christ’s resurrection. Romero read as the first reading, I Corinthians 15:20-18, with its vigorous cry of faith: “Christ is indeed raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
The stupendous Easter event testifies to the saving love of God and his Son Jesus’ compassionate stance for the poor and the suffering world. According to the theologian, Monika Konrad Hellwig: “The whole preaching of Jesus concerning the coming reign of God emphasized essential non-violence … He stood his ground in the witness he personally had to give, as speaking the compassionate word of God into the human situation, and for this he was crucified. But he spoke the compassionate word of God into the world … And because of this God raised him from the dead, giving him a name above every other name, a name in which all might be saved from the confusion and frustration of a sinful history under the crushing spell of the fear of death. It is the many-faceted compassion of Jesus that offers the key to the resurrection. It is a compassion that goes out to every kind of human suffering both in healing and in challenge … But it is also a compassion in a more radical sense in that he enters into the situation of suffering, the situation of their enslavement to sin and fear and frustration. He enters into it all the way to the bitter end … He redeems the situation of hopelessness by being there, because where he is, is after all not quite hopeless. This is the power of Jesus, but it is most typically the power of God … The resurrection of Jesus is above all else the revelation and the realization of God-with-us … In the total self-gift of his compassion, Jesus acts most divinely, yet it is in the same compassion that he becomes in his resurrection most imitable.”
The Risen Lord lives on in the compassionate acts of his disciples. Where the Christian followers incarnate their Master’s compassionate stance for the poor, the suffering and the oppressed, the Risen Lord becomes present in a most limpid way. The task and challenge of the Easter event is to resurrect Christ’s saving compassion in the here and now. Monika Konrad Hellwig underlines the exigencies that the glorified Lord demands from his Easter disciples: “To be a follower of Jesus means in the first place to enter by compassion into his experience, with all that it expresses of the divine and of the human. And it means in the second place to enter with him into the suffering and the hope of all human persons, making common cause with them as he does, and seeking out as he does the places of his predilection among the poor and despised and oppressed. This would seem to be the meaning of Eucharist and the meaning of Church.”
The joy of Easter enfolds us. The glory of Christ’s resurrection renews us. The presence of the Risen Christ in the hearts of the faithful and in the world around us is very real and impelling. It evokes from us acts of love, service and compassion. Harold Buetow remarks: “Our faith tells us that the Risen Jesus lives in and loves every person, and he accepts as done to himself whatever we do to one another. When we say or sing, “Jesus Christ is risen today”, we do not mean only “Jesus Christ was risen once upon a time”. We mean that the risen Christ is all around us, in the eyes and faces of those sitting beside us, in the bread and wine on the altar, in the newly baptized, and in the people we meet all the time. He walks the earth today – teaching, healing, touching, suffering, dying, and rising. If we go seeking the risen Jesus with faith and hope and love we will find him. Seek him, find him, love him in every person by serving their needs. Then truly not only is Christ risen but we, too, are already living a risen life by his power and grace … May the Risen Lord provide us with the grace to grow in love, and may the joy of Easter cast its glow on our efforts.”
Indeed, the experience of the Risen Christ living in us brings about transformation and is a pledge of our future resurrection. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 655, avows: “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 fulfillment. 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.”
II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
A. Do we allow the joy of Easter to raise us up and let our lives be renewed by the Holy Spirit, the Risen Lord’s Easter gift to us?
B. Are we faithful witnesses of Christ’s resurrection and true imitators of his saving compassion?
C. How grateful are we to the Lord for calling us to participate most intimately in his death and rising from the dead? How do we share and communicate this saving reality with others?
III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD
(Cf. Opening Prayer of the Easter Sunday Mass)
Leader: Let us pray
that the risen Christ will raise us up and renew our lives.
God our Father,
by raising Christ your Son
you conquered the power of death
and opened for us the way to eternal life.
Let our celebration today
raise us up and renew our lives
by the Spirit that is within us.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD
The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.
“He saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” (Jn 20:9)
V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION
A. ACTION PLAN: Pray that the spirit of Oscar Romero and other modern martyrs who have participated most intimately in the death and rising of Christ continue to animate today’s work for justice and peace in the world. Read Jeffrey Sach’s article, “How To End Poverty” (TIME magazine, March 14, 2005, p. 42-54) and resolve that in this Easter season, we will work with the family of nations to send forth mighty currents of hope and work in the power of the Risen Lord to heal the hurt and alleviate the hunger of the poor of this world.
B. ACTION PLAN: That we may participate more meaningfully in the death and rising of Christ to new life, and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 18): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.
Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM
PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI
SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323