THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Easter Sunday

12 April 2020

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Dear Friend,

Our hearts are filled with joy today. Jesus has overcome death for us and opened up the passage to eternal life. We, who are miserable sinners, have been invited by Jesus to turn away from our sinful lives and to follow Him into eternal life. The good thief on the cross next to Our Lord gives us reason to have courage. Despite his evil life, he is contrite and turns to Jesus filled with hope asking to be remembered when He enters His Kingdom. Jesus promises him this grace.

The world and even many of the apostles have turned away from Jesus in His suffering. The Jews nearby mock Him and deride Him. The great sinner suffering beside Jesus can somehow see what the others cannot. Jesus is suffering and dying freely and of His Own Holy Will. His Suffering is the means to open the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven. He has placed Himself next to us as a living shield to take the blows that rightfully are directed at us sinners. His love fills Him with compassion for sinners. He reminds us that He came to save sinners.

The Resurrection is the proof and the promise of eternal life. We need not lose hope in our pain or suffering. We are to look upon the Resurrection of Jesus and be filled with faith and love in His promise. We too can one day rise into Heaven with Him. Even if our hands are stained with robbery or murder our contrition will open the doors to Heaven for us. We must learn from the good thief to accept the just punishment for our sins. The pain and sorrow we are confronted with is a just and fair recompense for our crimes. After this we can pray with the good thief: "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom." With this love, contrition, and faith we have reason to hear Jesus say to us also that we will one day be with Him.

It is love that makes all these things possible. The sinful woman was forgiven much because she loved much. The good thief was forgiven because love made him contrite and humble. We must not confuse love with emotionalism or sentimentality. Love is active and productive. The love in the heart of the sinful woman compelled her to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears of contrition, to wipe His feet with her hair and to anoint His feet with the most precious ointment she could obtain. Love brought forth resignation to suffering and death in the heart of the thief.

We look back in time to the Resurrection of Jesus, rather than to the future as they did. We have the benefit of history with the proofs and testimony of the apostles and saints. Jesus has risen, we too will rise after our death. However, we must believe in Him and this requires us to love Him. This love must move us to action. Tears of contrition, firm purpose of amendment, penitential works, almsgiving must all become integral to our very being if we are to rise gloriously on the Last Day. St. James tells us that faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)

The penitential season of Lent has passed, and we have, hopefully, made good use of that time. We cannot go back in time to correct our errors, but we can make better use of today than we did yesterday. The very Life of our Soul has Risen. We cling to Him in faith, hope, and charity. To hold onto and follow Jesus in the Resurrection, we must first hold onto Him in this life and in physical death. We need to accept the burdens and crosses of our physical lives as the good thief accepted his suffering upon a cross. We need to weep tears of contrition, perform good deeds, and give alms as the penitent woman did.

Rather than see the penance, suffering, and death of this life as a futile end; we should strive with the saints throughout history, to perceive these things as the necessary means to reach our goals. The crosses, suffering, and death of this life, if used well, are the tools or weapons in our hands to see us through to eternity. Rather than hate or despise them, we are to embrace them as Jesus embraced His Cross. Through His Cross and Death, He came to Resurrection and Life. Our path is the same, we only need to embrace our crosses as He embraced His Cross. We only need to resign ourselves to our suffering for the love of God as Jesus resigned Himself to His suffering for the love of God and us. When we do this, we find true joy in our hearts as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.

There is true joy and sweetness in the crosses of this world, but only those who love and follow Jesus ever really taste it. Love makes it not only tolerable but makes it, indeed, desirable and consoling. May we celebrate Jesus' Resurrection with true joy in our hearts as well as the courage to arrive there with Him by first cheerfully following Him in this life of suffering and death.

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