Third Sunday of Easter
April 19, 2015 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Last Sunday, a group of parishioners and I had the privilege of listening to our parishioner, Lou Schwarz, speak about the amazing life of his brother, the Servant of God Aloysius Schwarz. Among the many things that impressed me about the Servant of God Aloysius Schwarz, his youthfulness of spirit impressed me the most.

Today’s collect prayer says: “May your people exult for ever, O God, in renewed youthfulness of spirit […].”

Nowadays, people want to remain young. The ideal is to stay forever young, as Bob Dylan sang in his the famous song. In this desire for eternal youth, we can see that there is a longing for resurrection in the human heart. However, Dylan is referring to youthfulness of the body rather than of the spirit. He is not totally wrong because we believe in the resurrection of the body. This is a truth of our faith that we profess in the Apostles’ Creed. However, it is an illusion to think that we can stay young forever. Sooner or later, the wrinkles will appear! We shall only achieve a glorious body at the resurrection in the hereafter. However, youthfulness of spirit can be achieved in this life. We do not see as many people searching for this youthfulness as for the youthfulness of the body. More people are disciplining themselves with diets and workouts than with a serious life of prayer.

How can we achieve youthfulness of spirit? Today’s readings help us find the answer.

In spiritual life, we start old and finish young,  which is the opposite of natural life. That is why the collect prayer speaks about renewal. We need to renew our lives. We have received a new life through baptism. However, the “old man,” as St. Paul calls him, is still in us. This old man is our human nature, wounded by sin.

In order to conquer the old man, we need to do what the first reading tells us: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away” (Act 3:19). Our discovery of God’s love leads us to conversion. The gladness we experience when we find that God loves us transforms us. The responsorial psalm says: “O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us! You put gladness into my heart” (Ps 4).

We are old but God is young. He is eternal youthfulness. Grace is young but sin is old. As we grow in our relationship with Our Lord, as we purify ourselves from sin, we become younger! The saints are the youthfulness champions!

In the second reading, St. John tells us that we need to keep God’s word in order for his love to be perfected in us: “But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him” (1 Jn 2:5a).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the Apostles that the mission of the Church is to renew the world, to propagate the new life of the Resurrection through the conversion of our hearts: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached to all the nations” (Lk 24:48).

The renewal of our spirit is obtained through the transformation of our hearts. We need to let the youthfulness of God conquer our oldness of spirit. It happens through listening to the Word, receiving the sacraments (particularly the Eucharist), going to confession and participating in the life of the Church. That is what the saints did and now they are forever young!

Let us ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. May the Spirit of God renew our spirits! Let us commit ourselves more decisively to what renews our hearts. Let us follow the path that leads us to youthfulness of spirit.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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