We were indeed buried with him through baptism into 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. (Romans 6:4)
I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8)
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! (1 Corinthians 9:16)
I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. (Matthew 21:22)
The Easter Season: A Time to Experience New Life in Christ. St. Paul tells us in Romans 6:4 that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we as Catholic men can “live in newness of life.” However, it is easy when we read Scriptures like these to just sort of nod in agreement without really reflecting on what the words really mean.
What is this new life that God promises us through Jesus? Quite simply, it is Jesus living in us (Galatians 2:20). It is a life of freedom (Galatians 5:1), because through Christ we are released from sin, guilt, fear, and anything else that holds us bound. We are set free from selfishness so that we can share with others what Jesus has freely given us? It is a life of love (1 John 4:8) —love that is freely given and freely accepted; love that overcomes division and builds up, not tears down. It is a life of passion—passion to spread the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16) so that others can experience the same freedom that we know. It is a life of meaning and purpose—one that brings joy because of our friendship with Jesus. And it is a life filled with hope—because we expect God to act for our good and to welcome us one day into his heavenly home (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
To see this life in action, all we have to do is to look at the lives of the saints. They lived to proclaim the gospel, and because of their expectant faith, they witnessed numerous miracles, whether it was as “spectacular” as being healed of a major disease or as “simple” as a life transformed by conversion to Jesus Christ. Whatever trials or persecutions they encountered, they never lost hope or the sense that it was an honor to be ambassadors of God’s love, mercy, and reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
How do we receive this new life that our Father has given to us in Jesus? By asking for it! Each day in prayer, surrender more of your “old” life to Christ, and ask him for more of his divine life in you. Believe that if you ask in faith, you will receive it (Matthew 21:22).
Where is this new life lived out? It is lived out in every aspect of our daily lives, whether at home, at work, at church, or in the community. It is especially lived out in our families where Jesus is honored; in vibrant parishes where the Gospel is preached with clarity and members care for one another; and in ministries that reach out to the unchurched and to the poor, lonely, and marginalized.
Even as you experience new life in Christ, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never experience suffering or sorrow, or even failure or disappointment. But it does mean that you will be able to respond to them with the faith and confidence that God is in control and that he will give you whatever you need to live a new life victoriously for him. We too can echo Paul’s words: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
“Jesus, I want to live more fully the new life that you died to give me. In faith I ask you to manifest more of your life in me and in the lives of everyone around me!”
(Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at [email protected].)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take a few minutes to read and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do they tell you about what it means to have new life in Christ?
2. In what ways have you experienced new life in Christ?
3. In what ways have you not experienced new life in Christ? The article states that the best way to experience this new life is by “asking for it” Have you done this? What other steps can you take?
5. The article goes on to state that this new life in Christ should impact every area of our lives, whether it is in the home, at work, at church, or in the community. In what areas is the impact of this new life the strongest? In what areas is it the weakest? How can you strengthen the impact in these areas?
6. If you are in a men’s group, pray for one another that each of you would experience more fully the new life in Christ that is yours through his death and resurrection. Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.