By Fr. Glenn Jones:
Well, a very happy and blessed Easter/Easter season to all of you. Oh, how I miss having a parish at this time of year … the thrill of this holiest day of the Christian annual cycle as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, ushering in a blooming hope for eternity with Him and the Father in the eternal life that we are made for.
It’s always such a joy to see families in their celebratory splendor … the ladies in their spring finest, the little ones frantically seeking out the Easter eggs and other goodies lain out for them in the greening grass and blossoming flowers of the church yard after Mass, squealing in delight as they discover a prized treasure. Moms alternately chatting among themselves and scolding about grass-stained knees. Dads’ exasperated efforts at corralling their little flocks while moms catch up on the latest family developments. The little ones trotting over to ol’ Father asking for a blessing for some new Easter medal or rosary. Sigh. Times like those truly give a leaping of the heart.
Now, you “Lord of the Rings” film fans will recognize this article’s title from the end of “The Fellowship of the Ring”, when Boromir—in his dying expression of regret at having disdained his rightful king Aragorn and having succumbed to temptation in trying to steal the ring of power—realizes his failures and pledges with last breath love and loyalty to king and country.
When I first saw that movie years ago, I could not help but think how apropos is that same exclamation for us Christians.
In Jesus we have a brother—a sibling not only in the spiritual sense, but in His incarnation—His divinity being “enfleshed”—in Mary’s womb … He sharing our humanity thereafter and for all eternity. He who died on the cross and subsequently resurrected on the third day was thus truly human while never losing His divinity. As we cannot not be human, the divine cannot not be divine. But, as we read in the Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (John 1:1,14) And we also find among many others this quote: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature…he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:14,17)
Secondly, how appropriate it is to think of Jesus as our “captain” as well—our leader in our earthly life in our battles against the myriad temptations that lead us away from God … and therefore from the true Good. It is a battle of charity vs. selfishness, of virtue vs. vice, of love vs. hatred. The Catholic Church even terms Christians when living earthly lives the “Church Militant,” fighting the good fight of St. Paul: “…aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called,” (1 Timothy 6:11-12) so that we, too, might proclaim as well when about to cross that final river into the true Promised Land: “…the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:6-7).
Finally, of course, Jesus is our King—now and for eternity … His the most munificent, beneficent reign of all, assuring His disciples: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15) and stating a truth the night before He would go on to fulfill that truth: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Referring to His kingdom, we hear from Paul: “May you be strengthened with all power…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light…and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” Colossians 1:11-18), and “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus…and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
Well, since Jesus is our brother, captain and king, should we not them strive to follow Him with whole heart? Does He not tell us: “You are my friends IF you do what I command you.” (John 15:14) Certainly we may fail at times; in the hubbub of daily life and with the bombardment of so many things that are not of God, we can easily lose sight of His light if we aren’t careful. After all, Peter began to sink because he took his eyes off of Christ (Matthew 14:30); we sink into the morass of selfishness and vice when WE do so. But—like Peter—we need only grasp His hand once again and keep our gaze fixed on Him to be saved … to not be overwhelmed by the storms and idols of the world, but always move toward the light He gives us … and which we ought to reflect to the world through our obedience to—and love for—Him, and in love of neighbor. As we hear in John’s letter: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:2-3)
So, without further ado, may God bless you and all your families as we celebrate this Easter season our Lord’s resurrection and as we look ever forward in anxious anticipation for the Return of the King, so that we may “take hold of the life which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:19)
“As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.” (Daniel 7:13-14)
Rev. Glenn Jones is the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and former pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos.