By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI. Visit rcsocialjusticett.org for our columns, media releases and more.
“Christ has really, truly, and substantially risen, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, from the dead. The whole Christ has risen indeed for the completion of the work of our redemption.” —Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Happy Easter! Christ is risen! His death and resurrection opened the door to a new life for us. The crown of thorns was a crown of victory—a triumph over sin and death. Pope Francis has reminded us that “life, which death destroyed on the cross, now reawakens and pulsates anew. The heartbeat of the Risen Lord is granted us as a gift, a present, a new horizon…”
“This heart is given to us and in turn, we are also asked to give it to others as ‘the leaven of a new humanity…in his Resurrection, Christ not only rolled back the stone to the tomb, but he also wants ‘to break down all the walls that keep us locked in our sterile pessimism, in our carefully constructed ivory towers that isolate us from life, in our compulsive need for security and in boundless ambition that can make us compromise the dignity of others’” (Catholic News Agency).
This Easter, let us resolve to be the leaven in the Mass. The Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, reminds us that we are called by God and led by the Spirit of the Gospel to work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way we “may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity”.
As disciples of the risen Christ, remember, if the “yeast” is to spread through the “whole batch” (Gal 5:9), if we are to be the effective leaven, we have to be witnesses of hope.
I worked with the late Cardinal Basil Hume in the Diocese of Westminster for many years—as the Vice-Chair of his Committee for the Caribbean Community (C5). He was the Chair of C5. His words of wisdom/encouragement continue to guide me today. For example, he said: “The great gift of Easter is hope—Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in His goodness and love, which nothing can shake.”
If we are not to be shaken, we need to root ourselves in God’s love. As Javier Lopez, Opus Dei says: “For the leaven not to lose its effectiveness, it needs God’s strength. God is the one who transforms. Only when we stay united to Him are we truly a leaven of sanctity. Otherwise we will be present in the mass of society without contributing anything expected of leaven. The effort to care for a daily plan of spiritual life will end up producing the miracle of God’s transforming action: first in ourselves, since this plan is a path to union with Him, and then, as a consequence, in others, in the whole of society.”
I am in London for Easter. Cardinal Vincent Nichols and bishops in the Diocese of Westminster are holding a series of meetings “to listen to young people ahead of the Synod on Youth in October” on the theme: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.
I met three of the youth who attended meetings held in February and March. They are working to do as Cardinal Nichols has requested. On February 27, he asked youth to become “digital apostles, using their social media skills to start conversations with other young people to invite them in to share the love of Christ in the Church”. I know that in our own archdiocese, Archbishop Jason Gordon is engaged in similar meetings. Our youth have many gifts. Like us, they are God’s instruments to build a better world.
Easter reminds us that our baptism must mean something; it should transform our lives and lead us to hunger and thirst for justice and peace; it should lead us to commit to live by every value for which Jesus stood. During this Easter period, let us spend some time reflecting on our mission to continue Christ’s work; to be living symbols of His presence in the world; to evangelise our culture/world to reflect Gospel values; to break down unjust structures; and to live the Beatitudes.
I end with the words of Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, whose words remind us Christians of what God did for love of us, His children, and for all His creation:
“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.”