Fifth Sunday of Easter

The second reading for today from the First Letter of Peter contains some of the most reassuring verses in Scripture. Today we are called living cornerstones of the Church, built into a holy priesthood[1]. We are called a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people the Lord claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the one who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.[2]

We are precious in the eyes of the Lord. We are invaluable. We are cherished. We are highly esteemed. We are really loved.

Why? Does God love us so much because of something or other that we have done? Why are we so precious? He loves us for whom we are unique reflections of His love in the world. He loves us because he sees in each of us the love He has for his Son, Jesus. He loves us because each of us carries on the life of Jesus in the world.

Jesus is the rock that has been rejected by the world but has become the cornerstone of the New World[3]. We are the living cornerstones. The Church is the building of the spirit of God. Jesus is the great high priest who was rejected by the status quo and thrown out of the Temple, crucified outside the city. We are the holy priesthood, people carrying on the priestly presence of the Lord making God present to others and others present to God. Jesus is the Light for the World, the one who dispels the darkness of sin. We are the light of the world. Those who are called to bring hope and light to a world living in fear and darkness.

We are precious to God because He sees his Son at work in us.

Therefore, we have to be aware and attune to our dignity as children of God. We have to treat ourselves and each other with the respect a child of God deserves. There are many times that we are tempted to go along with a philosophy of life that treasures actions that are in themselves self destructive.

We are precious to the Lord. We carry the image of his Son within us and among us. We have to hold our heads up through the muck of society. We have to have enough self respect to avoid degrading ourselves by giving in to what everyone else says is acceptable in this modern day but what we know is unacceptable in any day.

In his address in Washington at the White House, Pope Benedict XVI says: «Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience –almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good[4]. Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that "in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation", and a democracy without values can lose its very soul[5]. Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent "indispensable supports" of political prosperity»[6].

We have to stand tall with the Lord. For we are the Church, we are the royal priesthood; we are the people whom God has chosen to bring light to all who live in darkness.

May the choices we make in life be only those that reflect the dignity we have been gifted with by the Lord of life.

[1] Sunday 20th April, 2008, 5th Sunday of Easter. Readings: Acts 6:1-7. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you—Ps 32(33):1-2, 4-5, 18-19. 1 Peter 2:4-9. John 14:1-12.
[2] 1 Pe 2: 9.
[3] Cfr Psalm 118:22.
[4] Cfr Spe Salvi, 24
[5] Cfr Centesimus Annus, 46

Ilustration: The first scene in the chronological order of the narrative, The Separation of Light from Darkness, is depicted in the centre of the vault of the ninth bay. The beginning of the Creation is marked by the figure of God, seen from below, as he launches himself into infinite space with his arms raised, allowing spirals of light to sweep aside the darkness. The poses of the four ignudi are very different from each other, without any attempt being made to obtain an effect of symmetry. Thus, the one above Jeremiah at the left, with a classical profile and a meditative attitude, contrasts sharply with the ungainly movement of the one the right, who laden with foliage and acorns, is throwing himself forward, his face in the shadow. On the opposite side, the two figures bend toward the centre, but with their torsos heads rotating in opposite directions with clearly distinct movements, splendidly rendered thanks to the artist's skilled use of perspective. Above the cornices, the four ignudi bear medallions representing the Elijah ascending to Heaven on the Chariot of Fire (at left) and the Sacrifice of Isaac (at right).
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Separation of Light from Darkness (with ignudi and medallions)(1511), FrescoCappella Sistina (Vatican).

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris