All School Mass Homily for Friday in the Second Week of Easter, Father Laurence Kriegshauser, OSB
Dear brothers, we are celebrating the joy of the rising of Jesus from the dead. He rose with his body and now reigns as Lord of heaven and earth. At the same time He is with each one of us. He reigns in heaven and draws us to himself while we live on earth. Part of us is already in heaven, you could say. We are members of his risen body.
This is what is taught us in the Catechism. That catechism as you know is divided into four parts. The first part is what we call doctrine, the mysteries of God and his plan for salvation. There we learn about the Holy Trinity, the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross to take away the sins of the world, his resurrection and his sending into the world of his Holy Spirit. These are all the truths we recite in the Creed at Mass every Sunday.
What is the second part of the Catechism? It tells how the risen life of Jesus is transmitted to us here and now. Jesus wanted to find ways to remain with us after his resurrection even though his visible presence was taken from us. That is why he created the sacraments, signs by which he comes to touch us bodily. Through physical signs like water and oil and bread and words he touches us, our very bodies, to connect them to his own body. These are the subjects of the second part of the Catechism. Through the sacraments Christ builds us into the Church, into members of his mystical body on earth. The sacraments are our sure connection to the risen Lord and his abundant life and love. We can never do without them. Today we heard about Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes. That was a symbol of the way he wants to multiply his physical presence so that it can become nourishment for millions down the ages, all those who are willing to humble themselves to receive it.
What’s the third part of the catechism? Well, if you are attached to the risen Lord by the sacraments, what’s going to happen in your life? You’re going to slowly change and behave like a member of the body of Christ. You will slowly learn the manliness of Christ, his patience, his courage, his tender love, his desire to serve, his integrity. This is what the third part of the Catechism is about, what we call the moral life or Christian behavior. The chief lesson of this part of the catechism is that as followers of Christ, members of his body, we are called to love one another as he loved us, just as Fr. Gregory reminded us on Wednesday. And we can do that because of the sacraments we have received, like baptism and the Eucharist.
So far we have three parts of the Catechism: doctrine or what we believe, the sacraments or how the life of Christ is transmitted to us, the Christian moral life. You can see how they flow logically one from the other. So what about the fourth and final part of the Catechism? There is still one element that is necessary in the life of a Christian if it is to be complete and successful, that is, ending in eternal life. That element is prayer. All that Christ has done for us, particularly his rising from the dead, his coming in the sacraments, his helping us to live a holy life, are only completed in us if we daily invite him in to our lives. He never forces himself on us. So the fourth part of the Catechism is about prayer and is a commentary on the Our Father. We have to ask God daily to give us our bread, our nourishment, especially the nourishment that is his own risen life. We have to ask for the forgiveness of our sins, for deliverance from evil. We have to open our hearts to the loving Father who is God so that we can receive all the gifts he has in store for us.
You know the Catechism from your theology classes. Try to remember those four simple parts for the rest of your lives. They are a program for happiness: the love God has revealed to us in his Son, the coming of God in visible signs, the living of a life modeled on Christ, and the daily inviting him into our hearts to help us carry our burdens and live our responsibilities. Glory be to God who through the life of his Son makes us his children on our way to life with him forever.