As Saint Peter summarized today the message of the Gospel and the life of Christ, so too for our own age should every priest, and so I thought I'd better give it a try for my first Easter Homily as a priest. So here we go, in one compact sentence: in order to reunite us with Himself, God conquered sin by His Son's Paschal Mystery and our own participation in that mystery.
The essential reason for the incarnation is also summarized in the Catechism of Catholic Church CCC 460 The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature":78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81
This is the essence of the Gospel, the Good News that we hear in today's readings, the center of our faith: Christ came to lift up a fallen humanity. But why is it that humanity finds it so difficult to believe this Good News?
The reason is that humanity was (and without God, still is) in a dire strait. We were lost from God, we were lost even from ourselves and who we were created to be. We even fail to believe that God is a loving God who desires our good; so often we cry out like Job does: “why does God not care about my suffering? Why did he create me if only to watch me waste away?” Such is the cries of Job.
Sin causes this false view of God. We don't trust Him because we have run away from Him. As God told Jeremiah the prophet, “they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” We ran away from God, we chose to be self-sufficient. This all began of course, with Adam and Eve, who believed the lie of the serpent that God was holding back something from us, and so we should take it for ourselves. They did, and the false image of God as a corrupt tyrant began to be passed down from generations.
This is why humanity fails to hear the Good News that God, who is love, became man, died on a cross, and freed us from our sins.
We see the disbelief in the disciples. As they cautiously gathered information, wondering what it all could mean, we too feel like them. We don't always see God nor understand his actions. We sometimes ask, Where is He? Why have our hopes been shattered?
Often the answer is: our hopes have been shattered because they are too small. God has bigger plans, unimaginable plans for our happiness and peace, and we fail to dream that big.
Jesus conquers that ancient problem our sins have caused by His Paschal Mystery: his Passion, death and Resurrection. The sin of Adam was committed by a man's disobedient hand stretching out to take from a tree. The forgiveness of Christ was completed by the God-man's obedient hand being nailed to a tree. And because this one act of perfect love and obedience was by God made man, it could not be swallowed up in the history books, but rather transcends every time and place to have cosmic consequences for us all.
But for that victory to be our own, we have to participate in it.
Last night at our Easter Vigil, our Elect began their sharing in the Lord's death and Resurrection by their Baptism, Confirmation, and First Eucharist. It does not end there. For us baptized, our life must be continually shaped by transformation, by the new life that Christ gives us. If we continually enter more deeply into this mystery, we will find that God does keep His promises. We will find that our faith has not been in vain, and that God has done things for us that are beyond our greatest secret wishes.