With Jesus, let us celebrate our lives every day

PROFESSIONS OF FAITH

If I exhort you, of all age groups, to celebrate your life every day, you will ask within yourself, “why should I celebrate my life every day?” Or, “how can I celebrate my life every day?” I have issues to deal with, every day. There are serious concerns in my life — problems between husband and wife, with children, with neighbors, paying bills, loans, illnesses, debts, deaths, etc.

In fact, I want you to celebrate your life today and all days of your life because God wants you to celebrate your life. He taught us how to celebrate our life through the earthly life of his Only Begotten Son.

I would like to highlight the last days of Jesus’ earthly life with reference to His solemn entrance into Jerusalem, which we commemorate every year as Palm Sunday.

Jesus determined His destiny, which was nothing else but the will of God, His heavenly Father. After having determined the hour of His passion, Jesus determined the manner of His procession into Jerusalem to accomplish the Paschal Mystery, that is, His suffering, His crucifixion to death, and His resurrection.

Jesus’ entrance into His holy city of Jerusalem was a celebration. Jesus himself was responsible for it. He wanted it to happen that way.

Jesus had been to Jerusalem year after year. But His visits during the last two years of His public ministry were special. The third year of his public ministry was nearing the end. He had become, by then, a popular person, a celebrity among all sections of society through His extraordinary miracles and powerful preaching.

Also, Jesus was very unpopular among His religious leaders who made many attempts to trap Him and tarnish His image for His healings on Sabbath days and for His most extreme sympathy toward sinners and tax collectors.

In the past, Jesus did not yield Himself to be arrested by His enemies. He simply said, “My hour has not yet come.” (Jn 7:6,30)

Now, Jesus felt that He was ready and His hour had come. The solemn entrance into Jerusalem was His voluntary and public surrender into the hands of His enemies. Jesus knew that His surrender would lead to His suffering, death, and resurrection on the third day.

Why did Jesus die at the age of 33? Why should He die so young through extreme torture and shameful crucifixion? Jesus was a very simple but eloquent preacher, lover of the poor, the sick and sinners, and worker of extraordinary miracles. He was such a good man and a great man. He could have lived longer for the good of many others and promoted His Heavenly Father’s Kingdom.

Jesus never suffered with a conflicting mind between His life and death, whether to live longer on earth for God or to die for God. He lived an untroubled life, unlike St. Paul who wrote to the Philippians, “I am hard pressed between the two: my desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” (Phil 1:22-25)

Jesus lived His life perfectly well. He lived for God and served others. Jesus loved God above all else and loved others as He loved himself. His life was the summary of Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17), the summary of his Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-7:27), with its special references to his Beatitudes and His prayer, “Our Father.” Jesus lived what He preached and preached what He lived.

Jesus lived His earthly life to please His heavenly Father. He fulfilled what His Father wanted Him to do. He said, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.” (Jn 4:34)

Do we desire to know the will of God? Are we determined to do the will of God? Do we love God above all else and love others as we love ourselves? Do we give due importance to Sunday, the Holy Day, the Lord’s Day? Do we desire to spend time to pray to God? Do we give time for God and for others?

We don’t want to die young. We want to live healthy, wealthy, enjoyable and lengthy lives. We want to fight illness and death with the use of the available medical facilities.

We plan for summer, winter, and vacations. We plan a year ahead; we have a plan for the whole year, month, week and every single day.

However, in spite of our planning and whether we like it or not — indeed, whether we want it or not — we have one common place to reach one day. It is our eternal destiny: heaven. Heaven begins from this earth. Our life is a journey toward heaven. We have already begun this journey. Are you ready to go to heaven? Have you got a plan for your one-way trip to heaven?

The life of Christ should impel us to celebrate our everyday life, come what may. Therefore, we must celebrate our everyday life, whatever happens. We must be in communion with God and in union with others.

To love God and to love others is to live for God and to live for others. This happens in heaven. Let us make it happen on this earth. This will make the earth into a heaven. This will make Juniata and Mifflin Counties into a heaven.

Husband and wife, you must celebrate your life. Students, you must celebrate your life. Young people, you must celebrate your life. Children, you must celebrate your life. Grandparents, you must celebrate your life. All who suffer various illnesses must celebrate life.

Let us enter into this holiest week of the year to appreciate our precious life and to celebrate it with the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

We enter into the Holy Week with palm in our hand, celebrating the willingness and the readiness of Jesus to die for us. We celebrate the sacred death of our Savior, the Son of God with deep sorrow for our sins. Then, Alleluia becomes our song of joy on Easter day. We celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior, not only on Easter Day, but every other Sunday and every other day.

Jesus Christ who suffered and died for our sins, rose back to life and lives forever. He lives with us and with all humankind. His life among us and within us should make our life into a continuous celebration with rejoicing, come what may. Alleluia should be only a word of expression of our rejoicing experience within us.

St. Paul’s letter to Thessalonians is meant for all Christians of all ages, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes 5:16-18)

Let us wake up every morning to celebrate our life. Let us go to bed every night, of course, thanking God for the gift of that day and with the hope to celebrate another day. Let every day be like Easter to you!

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Fr. Jayaseelan Amalanathan is from Chennai, South India, now working as the Parochial Vicar for the parishes of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Lewistown and St. Jude church, Mifflintown. Continuing the ministry of Jesus Christ for 30 years, he spent his ministry in India toward the uplift of the most deprived and marginalized people and was awarded in the year 2015, the title of ‘Doctor of Divinity’ (Honoris Causa) by the Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration.

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