Jesus Christ is risen: His love endures forever

Given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

As many among you already know, each year, during Holy Week, I invite us to pray and to reflect in the liturgies of the Easter Triduum and in personal prayer, using a specific prism or lens to help us focus better on the life-giving mysteries of Jesus' Suffering, Death and Resurrection. This year, I have proposed the prism or lens of Jesus' total self -giving love. And, as a model for us to imitate, I have proposed the total self-giving love of that anonymous woman recorded in St. Mark's Gospel. She gave her all to Jesus by anointing His head with precious ointment just two days before the Passover.

This total self-giving love of Jesus Christ lies at the core of every Eucharistic Sacrifice or Mass. In the liturgies of the Easter Triduum, that is, from Holy Thursday evening through tomorrow, Easter Day, Jesus' love is so much more intentionally emphasized and made present.

Tonight, as we together take part in this Easter Vigil, Christ's total self-giving love attains its most visible and fullest expression. Why do I say this?

Jesus Christ truly suffered and died for us because He loved us. But, if that is all He did, however noble and inspiring and courageous is the love He revealed, it would not in itself be able to save us. However, by raising His Beloved Son to new and unending life, in conquering the permanence of suffering, sin, and death, God the Father affirmed just how total, effective, enduring and salvific is the love of His Son for us. In raising His Son to new and unending life, God proclaims that His love saves us and endures forever.

Because the love of Jesus is total and forever enduring, you and I are recreated and re-energized to live life, seeking to love as Jesus loves: totally and selflessly with new purpose and meaning.

Pause with me and consider how Christ's total self-giving love can be effective in our lives. His love enables us to be reborn and to experience each day the power of His life at work in us - what we call sanctifying grace. Tonight we rejoice at the baptism of Victoria Marie Montaño and Shane Samuel Piper. Born again through water and the Holy Spirit, they will become God's son and daughter, brother and sister to us within the household of faith: the church.

The love of Jesus enables us to walk securely in the light of His presence and His truth. As we began tonight's Vigil, the Paschal Candle, symbolizing Christ the Light, was lit and then entered into the darkness of the cathedral. Christ the Light entered, banishing the darkness of our doubts, our difficulties, and our sinfulness, and leading us into the warmth of His embrace and the security of His truth

The love of Jesus enables us to turn back to Him with contrition and to begin anew to follow Him, our Lord and Savior. Soon we shall renew the promises we once made at our Baptism and remade at our Confirmation, so as to follow Him more faithfully in His holy Catholic Church, witnessing to the transforming power of His love at work in us. We also rejoice tonight that six already baptized Christians will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church; Ronald Cole, Jeremy Gilbert, Joseph Gribb, Andrew Morris, Jarret Ray and Samuel Washington. We joyfully will witness the two baptized and the six received being confirmed along with two others: Ariana Flores and Marisa Klein.

The love of Jesus enables us to experience at every Mass the making present of His dying and rising, His greatest act of total self-giving love, and to receive Him, truly present, to be our strength and our life as we return to the challenges of daily living in the real world. Tonight our 10 new members of the Catholic Church will make their first communion.

Yes, every aspect of tonight's jubilant celebration proclaims the total self-giving love of Jesus Christ for each one of us and for every human person. And, in turn, every aspect of tonight's jubilant celebration invites us to love the Lord and one another the same way Jesus loves us: totally and selflessly day by day. We are to give our all. Let us affirm our "yes" to love as Jesus loves, not perfectly because we are imperfect, but perseveringly, as we pray daily, take part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice at least every Sunday, witness to Jesus each day, and reach out to those in need, whatever their needs, in effective ways.

Rejoice! We hear what the woman at the tomb heard: "Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified, He has been raised; He is not here." Yes, the total self-giving the love of Jesus Christ has triumphed and endures forever. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015