March 25, 2016

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Live close to Calvary and the empty tomb in your daily life

Sean GallagherAn ordinary family home in central or southern Indiana today can seem a world away from the hill of Calvary outside Jerusalem where Christ was crucified 2,000 years ago, and the tomb where he was buried—and rose from the dead—a few hundred feet away.

Yet this place is of central importance for Catholics and all Christians, since it was where humanity’s redemption was completed when the Lord showed his infinite love for us by dying on the cross and then rising again in glory.

When we gather to worship on Palm Sunday and on Good Friday, we’re spiritually drawn to the foot of that cross on Calvary to mourn the death of our Savior at the side of his sorrowful Mother, and to give thanks for his boundless mercy that flowed from his pierced side. On Holy Saturday night or on Easter Sunday, we stand with Mary Magdalene, Peter and John at the entrance of the empty tomb, filled with awe and a growing joy at knowing our Lord lives.

But, at least at first glance, it can seem hard for Catholics living in the U.S. today to identify themselves with both the overwhelming horror of Christ’s death and the transcendent joy of his resurrection, two experiences that are so far removed from our daily lives.

St. Paul would have us take a second look at our everyday lives. He thinks they’re closer to Calvary and the empty tomb than we might at first think.

We hear his perspective on this dilemma, found in his Letter to the Romans, proclaimed during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4).

It’s fitting that this passage begins with a question. For it’s easy for us to be oblivious to the profound reality that is the subject of Paul’s question as our lives, 2,000 years and half a world away from Calvary and the empty tomb, become in their busyness more and more focused on the here and now.

However, if we take a moment to step back on solemn days like Good Friday or joyous ones like Easter Sunday to see the bigger picture of our lives, our eyes can be opened to just how Calvary—and Christ’s empty tomb found so close by—can be found in the heart of our homes.

Parents are baptized into Christ’s death when, dying to their own preference for a good night’s sleep, they rise in the middle of the night to comfort a crying baby. Years later, they’re baptized into Christ’s death when, dying to their preference for quiet time at home, they spend many an afternoon, evening and weekend driving their children to and from sporting events, parish activities or music lessons.

At the same time, parents live in newness of life when they appreciate the tender beauty of the baby lying on their shoulder, even if it’s at 2 a.m., or joyfully watch their growing children deepen their faith and nurture their God-given talents.

For their part, children are baptized into Christ’s death when, instead of throwing a fit like young children are wont to do, they learn to humbly accept that their every desire will not be fulfilled the moment they express it. And they live in newness of life when, as children so often do, they take joy in the small things in life—coming home after a long day at school, playing in the backyard on a sunny spring day or seeing their favorite dessert placed on the dinner table.

Receive with an open heart the grace of the Easter season that we’ll soon begin, and let it help you live close to Calvary and the empty tomb in your daily life. †

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