There is always redemption and resurrection --- in our Church and in our lives.
There is always a rising from the ashes.
My heart is with our brothers and sisters of St. John Vianney parish in Hacienda Heights. In the fire last Friday night, they lost the sacred space where their faith lives and so many of their family memories were formed and nurtured.
I hope you will join me in making a special place for them in your prayers this Easter season.
I was privileged to be with the people the next day to celebrate the vigil liturgy for Passion Sunday. I was touched by their courage and resolve, and by the leadership of their brave priests.
We celebrated Mass in the parish hall. It was emotional for me and everyone else. The smell of the burnt church was heavy in the air, even in the parish hall, as we remembered our Lord's suffering and death for us.
When we prayed the psalm response, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" it seemed fitting. Our Lord prayed those same words on the cross. He prayed those words, not in despair, but in hope.
For he knew that Psalm 22 was a prophecy of his passion. He knew that at the end of the psalm, the one who feels forsaken is delivered from death by the hand of God.
And he knew the psalm's triumphant final words:
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him. …
Posterity shall serve him;
men shall …
proclaim his deliverance
to a people yet unborn,
that he has wrought it.
St. John Vianney will rise from its ashes.
These strong people will rebuild their church together in love and in solidarity. New love will blossom within new church walls, like new wine in new wineskins. New memories will be born. The sacred mysteries will be celebrated and bring people salvation --- forgiveness of sins, baptism to new life, communion with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
The cross leads to the Resurrection --- in our lives and in our Church.
This is the great hope of this holy season. Jesus Christ has risen today! To be with us once more! Alleluia!
He has scattered the darkness in our hearts and minds! He has turned the evil that some meant against him into good --- that all might be brought to the glory of new life.
The cross is not forgotten in the Resurrection. The cross is always the way and the means to our Resurrection.
Because the way of the cross is the pattern of love. It is the way we pass over from our selfishness to truly open our hearts to love and to be loved.
We live by a new principle now. We live by the new law of love that he has shown us by his passion and death. By dying, behold we live!
We live by denying ourselves to take up our cross and follow him. We love by laying down our lives for our brothers in self-denial and works of love and mercy.
It is a beautiful way of life he calls us to: To love and to be loved. To tell the world that Christ has risen, that he has made us children of our Father in heaven.
My prayer for each of you this Easter is that you and your families rediscover the joy of your baptism --- when you first became new creations, new sons and daughters of God.
May you always grow deeper in your friendship with Jesus Christ.
The work of our Resurrection is ongoing! To live in God we must continue dying to sin and living in imitation of Jesus Christ. This requires always a cross, a "passion," a daily struggle against pride, selfishness, and the attraction to disobedience and evil.
But this work of our Resurrection is joy and light and sweetness. To live for God. To live to fulfill his purposes for our lives. What greater happiness could there be for us?
Let us continue to pray for one another this week, and especially for our brothers and sisters at St. John Vianney.
Let us ask the intercession of Our Lady of the Angels, the cause of our joy. Let us ask her to help us to renew our joy and peace in the Risen Christ.
St. Vianney will rise. And we will rise. Each one of us, and all of us, the family of God, the Church of the great Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
We will all rise by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. By the power of a Love that is stronger than death.