In his first letter to the struggling Christian community in Corinth Paul wrote, “I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn received; that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day.”
This is the core of our Christian faith; Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised from the dead. Our whole life as Christians is to be built of these realities. That’s why this same Paul encourages us to seek the things that are above not the things that are of earth. If we are blessed with earthly well-being, good health, a secure job, affordable housing, a stable family life, it is good to remember that in the total world population we are very blessed. But all these blessings we will one day leave behind. Whatever things we possess will be seen as trinkets, baubles that, in the long run mean nothing.
Seek the things that are above means we try to develop a close friendship with Jesus Christ. We just observed Good Friday and remembered the shameful death he died on the cross. By his wounds we are healed, by his dying and rising we are invited into a close, life giving friendship with him. That’s what the Christian life is all about, growing in that friendship. We grow in that friendship in and through our relationships with other people, especially those close to us, our spouses and our children. We deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ when we are accepting and respectful of men and women of different social backgrounds, different faiths, different races and different life styles. We grow in our oneness with Christ when we are conscious of and involved in seeking justice and fairness for people we don’t even know. As often as you do these things for others, family members, fellow workers, total strangers, we grow closer in our relationship to Jesus Christ. We deepen our relationship to Jesus Christ, the first born of all creation, when we become more aware of our kinship with all life forms enriching Mother Earth.
We are to grow to full maturity in Christ by seeking the things that are above, the endless life Christ gained for us by his passion, his death and his resurrection. We grow to full maturity in Christ by living in life giving, life enhancing, life healing relationships with all those men and women who come into our lives.
On Easter Sunday instead of reciting the Apostle’s Creed we renew our baptismal vows, vows spoken for us by our Godparents when we were baptized. Now we speak them for ourselves. When we were baptized we were born into God’s family as God’s daughters and sons. When we were baptized we began our personal friendship with Jesus Christ and began our lifetime journey to deepen that relationship. In renewing our baptismal vows may we be graced to know that Christ loves us, gave his life for us, and he is living at our side every day of life to enlighten, strengthen and free us so that we are able to seek the things that are above, the things that really matter, the things that will endure.
In renewing our relationship with Christ may we all be blessed with a holy and happy Easter season.