2015 Easter Message - Keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus

Early in Lent every year, in fact on the Second Sunday, we always have one of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

This was the time that Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain and gave them a glimpse of his divinity - his glory as the Son of God. For these three, and everyone in fact, only the ‘man-side’ of Jesus was visible. For a brief intense few moments these Apostles had an experience of the ‘God-side’ of Jesus.

Mark tells us in his Gospel that it was these same three - Peter, James and John that Jesus took with him right in to the garden of Gethsemane. It seems they were able to witness him in his terrible agony. Jesus wanted to let them know, that even in the pain and human suffering of his agony, there was more to him. He was also the Son of God among us. Even if they forgot this at the time, they would eventually remember the experience of Jesus’ Transfiguration and share it with us.

The Church always, as I said, puts the Transfiguration before us early in Lent. As we strive to follow Christ more closely in Lent we can say that Lent is a struggle. Life is a struggle also. The Church therefore puts before us the Glory of God’s Son to remind us that we are never alone in the struggle. Jesus who struggled, is with us. Jesus the powerful Son of God also strengthens us.

Pope Francis recalling Jesus being severely tested in his forty days in the desert, said that Lent was a time of spiritual combat. We can say that life can also be described as a combat. In Lent, and therefore in life, it is so important to keep our gaze fixed upon Easter - upon our gloriously Risen Lord.

To quote the words of Pope Francis as he describes Lent, “Lent is a spiritual combat against a spirit of evil. While we cross the ‘Lenten desert’ we have our gaze fixed upon Easter, which is the definitive victory of Jesus against evil, the evil one, against sin and against death.” This holds true for our journey of life as well.

It’s so wonderful to come to and celebrate Easter after Lent. Each Sunday is also a celebration of Easter. This is the core of our Faith. St Paul said, “…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain”.  (1Cor15:14)

Whenever we celebrate Easter or recall it in Faith, we are keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus, our Glorified Lord.

Jesus risen from the dead means that he is not only alive, but also that he lives with us - each moment of each day.

With his presence Jesus brings his power and strength. And don’t we need it! Easter doesn’t mean there is no more suffering, no more struggle, no more combat, no more Cross. That’s all still there for us, however our Risen Lord is there as well.

St Paul speaks of the wonderful balance that Jesus offers us. He wrote, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”.  (Phil 3:10)

We need to reflect on and contemplate this throughout life. Pope St John Paull II spoke of it as “Contemplating the face of Christ”. It is obvious that he often did that himself in prayer.

Using our imagination in prayer is so human and so fruitful as St Ignatius of Loyola would teach us. So in our imagination, mind and Faith let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We can do that in prayer, as we focus on any stage or situation in Jesus’ life. It would be most important however to contemplate Jesus on the Cross as well as Jesus Risen - the Easter event. Easter is the most important event in the whole of our human history. It has the most far reaching consequences.  

My sister, Dorina, a Josephite Sister, kept her gaze fixed on Jesus throughout her life in various ways. One way was by saying the following prayer whenever she ended a time of prayer, especially when leaving the Chapel. “I leave you now dear Jesus, but I am not without you; as I go to live, suffer, die and eventually rise with you. Amen.”