Bài chia sẻ trong Lễ Vọng Phục Sinh tại ĐCV Ngôi Lời

The season of Lent is always a time of prayer, reflection and soul searching.
but this year, our church got an extra dose of it
When as Lent began, Pope Benedict suddenly issued his resignation.
Many of us were bewildered and shocked. 
But no doubt Pope Benedict knew what he was doing.
The secular media attempted to present a rather worrisome picture
Of a Pope being forced to abdicate due to insurmountable problems in the Curia,
And of cardinals vying for the seat of Peter to lead a church
That was corrupt and out of touch with the times. 
Then, while we watched and prayed, the cardinals met and discussed,
Searched their hearts and searched for the Will of God.
Then, they began the conclave locked away from the world in the Sistine chapel,
Shunned from cell phone, mass media, or Twitter accounts,
Having the Holy Spirit as their only inspiration.
Two days later, after five ballots and two rounds of black smoke
Rising from the Sistine Chapel chimney,
Catholics that flocked to St. Peter Square and all over the world
Erupted in joy and thankfulness when white smoke billowed out of the chimney
signalling the election of an Argentinian cardinal Who would become Pope Francis. 
Emerging from inside the walls was a humble and gentle 76 year old man
Who was not on the list of projected candidates.
Once again, the Universal Church is able to celebrate, hope, and journey forward
With its new shepherd granted by God.

This episode of confusion and uncertainty
Followed by tremendous joy and gratefulness in the life of our Church this Lent
Reflects greatly the spirit of what we are celebrating
in such a grand manner this evening.
And that is the story of Jesus Christ who was crucified on the Cross
And then buried in a tomb;
Yet on the third day, when his sad and forlorn disciples came looking for him,
He was no where to be found.
What they discovered was just an empty tomb.
That empty tomb holds great importance for our faith.
For without that empty tomb, as St. Paul says,
We are just a bunch of pitiful fools and our faith is useless
Because we believe in something that isn’t true.

So if we are going to spend this much time and effort
Organizing this celebration tonight and throughout this Triduum,
 It must mean that we do insist
That there was a tomb in which the body of the crucified Jesus was laid,
But on the third day, that body was not found.
Behind that empty tomb is not some sort of intricate conspiracy
Carried out by the government or by the followers of Jesus,
But the belief that Jesus indeed resurrected from the dead.
And by His resurrection, he brings hope to the hopeless
peace to the distraught, and courage to those who are afraid to proclaim one’s faith.

The story of the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ
Will always be the most fundamental aspect of our faith
As individual Christians and as a Church in every age and place.
It is this very event that tells us that
There is a wonderful plan of salvation that God has for the world.
And the empty tomb is not just a malicious hoax or an urban legend,
But indeed, it is God's plan of salvation.
And what is salvation if it is not about
Helping us to be affirmed in God’s love and mercy,
And that never once did God want to toss us away
Like a failed experiment.
Instead, God desires to give us another chance,
To break out of chains and bondages that make us
Into slaves of sin and desolation.

The Pascal mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection
Affirms that life is not just about suffering or being downtrodden,
And however long the dark night seems to be,
In the end, the dawn will come and the rays of light
Will manage to break through the crevices in the caves of our lives.
We as individuals go through all sorts of trials and tribulations.
Failure in studies or in work, broken relationships, 
Actions and words that we'd rather didn't do or say.
Our Church as a whole continues to struggle to proclaim the Good News
Amidst attacks and criticisms by forces from both inside and outside,
Leaving us to wonder if these challenges can actually be overcome.
Fortunately, the way of the cross is the way for travelling, 
Not a place to stay to pitch tents.
If Christ refused to take the painful path to Calvary,
Then into the dark and abandoned tomb,
Then He would never have tasted the glory of the Resurrection.
The appointed place for us that we have to head towards
Is the empty tomb.
And that means not burying ourselves in the gloominess of Good Friday
But to make that journey forward to Easter Sunday,
Making ourselves become a joyful Easter people.

Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead.
But what good is that to us if this event
Does not change the way we talk, the way we act,
The way we lead our lives as Christians and as church?
What good is that to us if our heart is stuck back on Good Friday,
Or that we become like the cynics 
Who try to find every possible way
To come up with a conspiracy theory
to convince ourselves that either Christ did not resurrect,
or if he did, it’s not that significant to our lives.

Therefore, if we are going to be standing in this church,
Singing and praising the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Then we should be ready to make some adjustments in our lives
To mesh with what our lips are saying.
And that means becoming more faithful in our prayer life,
Becoming more purposeful in our work and our studies,
Becoming more joyful in celebrating the sacraments,
Becoming more courageous in witnessing to the values of the Kingdom of God,
And becoming more collaborative with the Church
That Christ has built and entrusted
with the mission to proclaim the Good News.
We have a wonderful new Pope that we love and adore,
But isn't it too much to stand idly by expecting a 76 year old man
To do all the work?

Our belief in the Pascal mystery should help us to
Be able to continue to love even after having been rejected,
Continue to hope and try even after having failed,
And continue to stand for Christ and His Church
Even when Christ seems increasingly irrelevant to the world.
Sometimes, we do feel hopeless and afraid.
Our faith life is not as strong as it should be,
Even when we call ourselves Catholics, seminarians, and religious.
The secular media is always looking to find faults with the church.
And sometimes, it's right.
Even within the Church, there are disagreements and conflict.
And for many people, google has replaced Jesus 
as the go-to-place for any life problems.
But as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ this evening,
We once again insist that
No pain or difficulties or great challenges can bring us down
Because we place our trust, confidence, focus and faith in the Risen Christ
Who has already overcome all those things.
And with faith and patience the black smoke that encompasses our lives
Will be cleared making way for hope and rejoicing.
Therefore, tonight, let us do what was urged by our newly elected Pope Francis.
We confess the Crucified Christ.
And we rejoice in his resurrection.

Epworth, IA 30.4.1013

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