Easter Sunday: The New Age of Jesus Christ
A Blessed Easter to you, your family and your friends. It is wonderful seeing how beautiful the sanctuary is for Easter. Easter decorations often incorporate all sorts of colors. It is lovely seeing all of you present here and dressed in your Easter best. You are the real flowers of the parish.
The symbols of Easter are meant to emphasize the New Life of the Lord. At the same time we are all aware that our world is not idyllic. There is pain and suffering. But there also is happiness and hope. Our hope is in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. Through our baptism we are called to proclaim His death and His life to a world that longs for meaning in the midst of pain.
We are in the New Age of Jesus Christ. The New Age of Jesus Christ is not the warmed over Buddhism, neo-paganism, and pantheism that is the basis of the pop-philosophy also called new age. The New Age of Jesus Christ recognizes the sorrows of the world and calls upon the followers of Christ to bring Him to others, and to lead the world to the Lord of Life.
We do need to be careful that we don’t confuse our beliefs with some modern popular trends. Perhaps you have noticed that there are quite a number of TV shows that are based on the main character’s psychic abilities, usually involving contact with the dead. As a result we have strange concepts such as people with no spiritual lives having contact with the spiritual. Another popular trend is seen in science fiction shows and movies most of which reduce the Divine to some sort of universal force, understood by all people but experienced in various forms. Science Fiction is fun, but it should be seen for what it is, fiction. Far more serious is the tendency of many, particularly in our country to embrace new age pop-philosophy, with its syncretism of all faith and its rejection of all religion. Many of us have come upon people who mock religion but who call upon so-called spirits of the world to protect them. Sometimes these people invoke pagan faiths such as those of some Native Americans, African tribes, or ancient Asian beliefs.
New age philosophy has thrust itself upon environmental issues. Do not get me wrong here. It is imperative that we treasure the gifts God has given us, and preserve them for the future generations. To use the current terminology: we all have a responsibility to be green. At the same time, it is wrong to attribute pantheistic powers to elements of nature. Earth is made of matter and energy. It is not our mother. That is a completely pagan concept. In fact, the pagan Greeks declared that earth was a god named Gaia. No, earth is not our mother. Our mother was given to us at the foot of the cross by the one whose Father is Our Father.
An even deeper problem proves the truth of one of Jesus’ teachings, “From their fruits you will know them.” Many who embrace new age philosophy have no difficulty with the occult. In fact they declare paganism to be a religion and actually worship Satan. This flows from the devil who is the core of paganism. These people reject God but give divine power to the elements of the world claiming wiccan as their faith and Satan as their leader. And once more the devil is seen to be prince of the world.
On February 3, 2003, the Vatican Pontifical Council for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue, issued a study on new age philosophy and religion entitled Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. It is worth reading. The document discusses various problems in new age philosophy. One is the way that new age confuses psychology and spirituality. This is seen in equating the physical working of a person’s mind to the existence of the soul. What is wrong with this? Well, if you follow this thought then when the brain is dead, there is no soul. It is a denial of the spiritual nature of man, reducing the spiritual to be no more than the result of physical functions. Another problem in new age philosophy is the positing of a pantheistic energy in all of nature. This neo-paganism worships nature as divine, and confuses the creatures with the Creator. In The Confessions, St. Augustine saw this as the fundamental error of the sinful aspects of his life before he embraced Christ. The Vatican study also notes that behind all new age philosophy is ancient Gnosticism, the claim that there is a greater truth than what God has revealed in scripture and in the Church and that those who reject this line of thought are rejecting truths hidden for ages. How about Christ? Jesus Christ is relegated by New Age to being merely the Christian name for a cosmic force. This so called Cosmic Christ is seen as a pattern which can be repeated in many people, places and times, so that which made Jesus the Christ also existed in Buddha, Confucius, Islam’s Mohammed, and even the Mormon’s Joseph Smith.
This is not what we Christian believe. We Christians believe that Jesus Christ is not a pattern, but a Divine Person, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. We believe that He became man on Christmas Day to reveal the mystery of the Father's love for every person throughout history. He lives in us because He shares His Life with us. But this Life is not imposed upon us. Nor it is an automatic birth right. All men
and women are invited to share His life, invited to live in Christ. That is the gift of Easter, but it is a gift we can accept or refuse.
All this helps us come to a deeper understanding of Easter. Yes, Easter is beautiful, but it is also gritty. Easter is about that which is real, not idyllic. Easter is about rejoicing in life restored even as we continue to experience life being destroyed in our fallen world.
“Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” This is the first New Testament reading of the Easter Season, Romans 6:1-10. It is also the most important non Gospel reading of the season. But it is difficult. It speaks about death and life. It speaks about Jesus Christ who suffered a horrible death, but who rose from dead. It speaks about His call to us to die to the world and rise to His New Life.
When we live our baptism, we are giving ourselves over to Christ. We focus on baptism during the Easter Season. The water of baptism is a union with both the death of Christ and the Risen Life of Christ. As the suffering people of the world continually experience, evil exists. Life is not so simplistic that we can say that if we all had pleasant thoughts evil will go away. We don’t have that power within ourselves. We do not live in Peter Pan’s world where all we have to do is think happy thoughts. The only way that the evil of the world will be defeated is by our embracing the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. Evil can be defeated. It was defeated on the Cross. It is still being defeated by the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ made real in the selfless love of his followers. This is what we took on ourselves when we began living our baptism. We were baptized into the death of Christ so that as we die to ourselves the Father who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us into the New Life of Christ. Each of us in our own unique way of reflecting the Lord, joins Him in winning the battle. We are at war. We are at war with the devil who uses our own intellectual powers against us, just as he did with Adam and Eve, when he tempted them to sin and outsmart God. We are at war, but we are not alone. We march against evil with the First Victor, Jesus Christ.
Real life is about Jesus Christ and Him alone. Everything that matters is about Jesus Christ. We often speak in the Church about salvation. What do we mean by that? We mean that we are saved from the lasting effects of evil by Jesus Christ. All people of good will are saved by Christ, even those who have not been gifted with Christianity. There is only one Savior. There is only one Christ.
And He is ours. And we are His.
We belong to Jesus Christ. The world has entered into a New Age, but this is not psycho babble of neo-paganism, it is the New Age of Jesus Christ. We are thoroughly immersed in this Easter Life, the New Life of Christ. We live the Life of Christ! His Victory is our victory. His Life is Our Life.
Embracing the Life of Christ is always new, wonderfully new, continually new. This is the New Age that we celebrate on Easter Sunday.