Dear Parish Family:
“Put to death in the flesh, [Christ] was brought to life in the Spirit,” writes Peter in today’s second reading. We, who have a two-thousand year patrimony of rich Catholic teaching should not allow ourselves to pass this statement too quickly. Today in the Western world, we hear that statement and we know that our long tradition affirms it. There may be those poor souls today who cannot believe it, but we all know that the Church’s teaching is and always has been that Christ died on the cross, was laid in the tomb, and was truly dead. Then He rose from the dead. For so many of us, we accept that as true, just as out fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers, and their parents before them accepted it. It simply is the way it is.
But this universal acceptance was not always the case. Imagine living in a time before everyone knew that Christ was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again. If a former fisherman currently pursuing a career as a religious fanatic told you his boss had been executed by the authorities, joined the choir invisible, and then got better, you would most likely — let’s be perfectly honest — think that guy was a loon. I know I would.
But few think that of Peter today. Some who read this were probably surprised when I called Peter a religious fanatic… but I honestly do not know what else to call a man who abandons the life he has lived to follow a religious path that ultimately leads to his own execution. Being a religious fanatic isn’t always a bad thing; sometimes it means you are driven by the Spirit.
And, yes… that would be the same Spirit in which Peter tells us Christ was brought to life. It would be the same Spirit that has transformed the world over the past two millennia so that in the Christian world, when we hear that Christ died and rose again, that isn’t a surprise to us. It simply is the way it is.
It would be the same Spirit that goes on transforming the world today. During this season of Lent, let us all pray for the Spirit to be active in our lives and to transform us to better hear and know the truth to which our faith leads us… the truth that comes to us through the teaching of Peter and the Apostles and that is safeguarded by Holy Mother Church until Christ comes again.