This is the traditional greeting and response of Catholics at this Easter time. How many of us have actually used this greeting “out there, in the street?” Personally, I have to admit, “not very often”. It seems a bit ‘out there’ to make such proclamations, Yet Jesus was willing to be tortured, stripped and nailed to a cross for us. He was slain for us, so that we might be able to be saved and be with him forever in Heaven.
On Passion (Palm) Sunday, I was the second reader and I had a powerful, spiritual experience while I was at the Ambo reading. When I got to the part where “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”, I found myself standing, not at the Ambo but at the foot of the cross in Calvary. I looked up and saw Jesus looking at me and I said “Why? You did all this? For ME?” and then I was suddenly standing in front of the ambo again. I picked up where I had left off and finished the reading. But when I tried to walk away, back to my place, my legs didn’t quite work right. I had to grab the ambo for balance. Shaun Tymchuk noticed; he asked me if I was OK – did I need to sit down. I think he thought I had a medical issue and was about to pass out. I have heard it said that some call this kind of experience “Slain in the Spirit”. While I didn’t collapse, I certainly stumbled.
The answers to my questions were slowly revealed me the rest of Holy Week through the Easter Weekend. “Why? All this for me? I’m not worthy. What have I done to deserve this?” At the Chrism Mass, I saw the Holy Spirit working in all the parishes through the bishops, the priests and deacons and so many lay people. On Thursday, He washed my feet, on Friday, He opened his arms to show me how much he loved me. And on Easter He rose up and spoke love.
This past week after Easter, there were several Gospel versions of the story of Mary [the] Magdalene finding the empty tomb and meeting Jesus. There are several historic meanings to the word Magdalene ranging from Curly-haired beauty to, well… did you know that one of them means, essentially Prostitute? Mary was a woman who was (in her mind) unworthy, yet Jesus saved her, despite her previous life (some scholars say she was the woman he saved from stoning, others, the sister of Martha, the one who poured out perfume on his feet). She had finally found a man who loved her as a person, not for what she could do for him but just because she was a person who deserved to be loved. He appeared to her first, not Peter or John, Mary! I finally realized that Jesus loved me too, despite my not being worthy, just because I was a person He loved. It all came together for me.
You too are that person whom He loves. We have all just journeyed through the season of Lent. We had been focusing on our sins and how they contributed to the separation between us and God, between us and our brothers and sisters in Christ and on a wider scale, to the separation, even between peoples on earth. That was hard!
Now, we can see that Jesus loves us despite our unworthiness. He took upon himself all our sins and we are free. We do not need to carry that burden any more. We are free of the sins that kept us from being able to love Christ. Free from the sins that kept us from being able to love each other. We are free of the habits and attitudes that enslaved us for so long. Let’s not go back there. Remember, before Lent, I suggested you consider giving something up for life? Well, now, let’s not go back. We found, instead of burying ourselves in TV or Facebook or sports or other things, that we could be more available to love our wives, our children, to pray, to renew ourselves spiritually. Let’s continue that renewal but now, with the knowledge that we can be free of our sins forever and that Jesus Loves us into holiness, despite what we may have believed about ourselves.
Vivat Jesus, the traditional greeting for Brother Knights means Long Live Jesus (in your Hearts).
Long Live Jesus. May He forever be the centre of your hearts and lives, and may you forever be free of all your past sins to love and worship Him and each other. In Jesus Name, I pray this, Amen.
GK Michael Mombourquette