He descended into hell …

31 Mar

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Our resurrected Lord enters into the darkness of our soul and brings eternal light and life. The call and invitation are one and the same: Follow me!

It’s part of our faith and it is expressed in our creed: Jesus died and descended into hell.

He did so to call the righteous from that place of darkness, where souls could not see God, into the heart of God, into eternal light, joy and peace.

An ancient Holy Saturday homily dramatically proclaims this descent of the Savior into hell. The unknown homilist, with graced imagination, has Jesus calling these souls to follow him into heaven:

“Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form one person and we cannot be separated” (See Liturgy of the Hours, Book II, pgs 496-498).

One person? As in the Person of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity?

Is this not heresy?

I think not. Being that “one person” in Christ is perfectly realized in heaven. However, we begin to experience it here on earth. Baptism makes us one with Christ in the Father and through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Here on earth, since we are prone to sin, we constantly strive through God’s mercy to become more and more “one person” in Christ. Our homilist has given us a clear statement of the nature of the Church as the Body of Christ.

St. Paul speaks of this reality, of being one in Christ and of the need to strive for God:

  • “I have been crucified with Christ, yet, I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” Gal 2:19b-20).
  • “So, then, my beloved … work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:13).

Pope Benedict XVI with a sense of urgency called the Church to a renewal of faith, a rejuvenation of apostolic zeal, to a depth of faith that would overflow from the lives of Catholics to all people throughout the world.

If we are truly Catholic, we are one in Christ, one Body with one Shepherd. If we are truly Catholic, we embrace this call to be in Christ and we embrace the mission of Christ – to bring his redeeming life, death and resurrection to everyone in our lives.

This takes humility, charity and vulnerability possible only through total dependence on God.

Pope Francis is showing us that humility, charity and vulnerability are the powerful evidence and energy of the Christian life.

Let’s be “one person” in Christ.

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