The above verse from the second reading of the Fifth Sunday in Lent has been on my mind. The death and resurrection of Jesus ended our slavery to sin. St. Gregory of Nysaa wrote:
“This is the beginning of a new creation. On this day, as the prophet says, God makes a new heaven and a new earth. What is this new heaven? you may ask. It is the firmament of our faith in Christ. What is this new earth? A good heart, a heart like the earth, which drinks up the rain that falls on it and yields a rich harvest….This day destroyed the pangs of death and brought to birth the firstborn of the dead.”
The sacrifice of Christ restored to us what Adam lost. The right order of the world is restored. Heaven is open to us. We are living in the midst of a new creation as we journey to the completion of a new heaven and a new earth. We are all called to share in the glory of Jesus.
Yet as St. Paul says we all fall short of the glory of God. Jesus conquered sin and death. We still sin. We still suffer. Too many lives are broken.
I often wonder why we find it so hard to unite ourselves to Christ. It is not as if Jesus has left us alone. God is near.
“Obviously with our own power we are weak and limited. There is always a resistance to love in us and in our existence, there are many difficulties that provoke divisions, resentment and rancor. But the Lord promised us to be present in our life, making us capable of this generous and total love, which knows how to overcome all obstacles. If we are united to Christ, we can truly love in this world. Loving others as Jesus loved us is possible only with that strength that is communicated to us in our relationship with him, especially in the Eucharist, in which his Sacrifice of love that generated love is made present in a real way.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
All sin is a turning away from God’s love. It is a failure to love others the way Christ loves us . It often seems impossible. I sometimes joke that it would be easy to be a Christian if it weren’t for other people.
But we were not created to live lives of isolation. We are called to live in unity—communion—with each other and God the Holy Trinity. We cannot do this without God.
That is why Jesus gave us the Sacraments. They are the ordinary way that Jesus touches us and enters into a relationship with us. It is the ordinary way that Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit invites us into the very life of God.