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Resurrection: salvation and commissioning Print
Guest column
Thursday, May. 28, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

Fr. Lawrence Oparaji

What was the aim of the resurrection experience? The entire book of the Acts of the Apostles gives us the aim of the resurrection experience.

Not only has salvation been won for us by Christ's resurrection, but there is also a mandate to go out into the world and set the world on fire with the good news of salvation, baptizing nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Life and ministry of apostles

We see this coming alive through the life and ministry of the early apostles. The early apostles lived this and gave their lives in service of this message.

St. Paul, who is renowned for persecuting the early Christians earlier on in his life, will catch this flame and become an apostle of Jesus. He will go on to be shipwrecked three times, arrested seven times, and imprisoned three times, just because of the burning desire in him to share the good news of salvation, to draw attention to the joy that lies in being one with Christ.

What are we doing?

What has our resurrection experience been like? Are we setting the world around us on fire with the love of Jesus and the good news of his salvation? Are we allowing the knowledge that we are loved by Jesus and that he gave himself for us to fuel our every word, action, and deed?

How far can we go for Jesus? Does our relationship with him stop once we enter into our workplace or our friendship circles? In essence, what I am asking is what would we give or not give for Christ who gave everything for us?

Recent statistics have shown a steady decline in the number of practicing Catholics: 79 percent stop practicing the faith before they are 24, 13 years is the median age when people stop practicing, 26.1 million Americans who were baptized Catholics no longer practice their faith, one in four Hispanics no longer practice their faith.

So I wonder what would the early apostles have done? I think the Acts of the Apostles gives us the answer. What they received, what they believed, and what they practiced they did not keep to themselves. We, too, are called to do the same in our little circles of friendship, family, and our vocations.

Jesus is not ashamed of us. He embraces us despite our brokenness, our pain, and our struggles. He died for us so that free from sin, we may serve him all the days of our lives. He loves and cares for each one of us, he knows each of us by name, so also we should never be ashamed of his Holy Name, his Heavy Cross which bore our sins and death, or our faith in his power to save us.

It begins with us

What can we do? I think the Latin adage Nemo dat quod non habet -- which means "no one gives what they don't have" -- can be called to mind here. We cannot give and nourish the faith in others if we are not grounded in it. We cannot evangelize without first being evangelized. We cannot educate others without first being educated.

In the past, our Church has relied on the "Catholic culture" to nurture and form, but times have changed, and now we need an "evangelizing culture", a culture of disciples, missionary disciples, who, first of all, prioritize their faith, their prayer life, their participation in the sacraments, their formation in the knowledge and love of God, who are then empowered to go out and share what they have received.

Our faith is not something to be grasped at but something to be emptied into the world. Our faith is something we empty ourselves into, something we receive, and something we pour out and share with others.

So, let us make our faith matter, let us come to embrace the fullness of life that resides in Christ, and then we can adequately draw others into the truth, goodness, and beauty that we have found.

May the Holy Spirit fuel our hearts with a burning desire to set our immediate environment on fire with the love, joy, peace, healing, and grace of Christ.

Fr. Lawrence Oparaji is a parochial vicar at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish, Sun Prairie.