This Easter Octave week we are dealing with the entire drama of the pashcal mystery, the heart of our faith, the sacrament. All these happenings compressed into a few days. All we can do is stammer or write poetry. So much density and intensity.
I hear the Readings ask: Who is Jesus?
What is grace? What is Easter grace?
Jesus was constantly stretched—to become finite, when he was resisted and rejected. When he was alone praying to the Father in the Garden. “let this chalice pass” or later, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
By the skin of my teeth I stretch. By grace. Through vulnerability. Begging for divine help. Crying out. Waiting on a rescue. Was that grace?
Who is Jesus? And what is grace? These are the questions the apostles were trying to address in Acts. Try it. Try expressing all Jesus was is a paragraph or two.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is the one who was called by the Father to suffer and die for love and so change our merely natural sin infested lives. Jesus was glorified by the Father. Jesus is the truth who in every situation rings perfectly true. He is the life sent to become light and life of the world for me. Jesus is the one who came back from the dead with a body still made of flesh that could eat, but come and go without effort, who had stepped out of time and space.
What is grace? Peter tries to explain to the crowd that what miracle they witnessed—the cripple from birth could now walk and jump around– was done through the grace of Jesus. Grace is love that heals. New life. Surprise! The place of the leap beyond the natural. Having your sins forgotten and forgiven. Grace is the ability to believe, no small thing. When a person really gives up trying to make something of himself, to become a holy ‘somebody’, when in the midst of negative experiences, perplexities,or panic, one throws himself into the arms of God like Jesus in Gethsemane, that is the grace of faith. Faith is the grace of the leap when something new happens. It is the very process of passing over, of transformation, of stepping outside the limits of fallen humanity in which we are all separated from one another and are ultimately impenetrable to one another—into an infinite otherness—agape. A stepping outside the limits of one’s closed individuality and breaking through into the divine. No longer separate, but belonging to God and one another.
Who is Christ as sacrament? Who is Christ in relation to me? When the entire mystery of Christ—his life, death and resurrection draws close to me, and enters me through the Spirit, transforms me, and makes me pure. That is Christ as sacrament. It all depends on my ‘I’ being absorbed into his ‘I’. “I have been crucified with Christ and It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal.2:20