We cannot be Christians part-time

Joyful Witness

By Fr. Erik Esparza

 Jesus is Risen! He is Risen indeed! We have entered the Easter Season. It is a time to celebrate new life. Jesus’ Resurrection is a sign that death and suffering is defeated with new life, redemption and salvation.

The Catechism of the Church states: The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal Mystery along with the cross (CCC #638). 

 The Resurrection is what excited and ultimately drove the early Church to go out and share the Good News. The great event of the Resurrection is what animated early believers and became the source of strength as the disciples of Jesus went forth, even in the face of persecution, to preach the Gospel! Early Christians never saw themselves as part-time disciples. Early disciples of Jesus did not simply celebrate the Resurrection on Sunday and then go back to their previous ways during the week. They didn’t act one way one moment and another way the next. 

 Sure, St. Paul’s letters describe the struggles of the early Church, but ultimately early disciples believed the words of Peter 1, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.” 

 This gift given to all people through the Paschal Mystery was worth living and dying for in order that others would come to believe. St. Augustine affirms, “If, then, you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your hearts on heavenly things, not the things that are on earth.”

 Being a part-time Christian is trying to seek both the things of God and the world. Often times we enjoy having Christ close to us, but not always at the center. We like to feel the presence of God, but keep Him far enough away to commit more freely to the things of the world. This is not our identity. This is not the way. The Catechism urges: “The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known (CCC #2472). Easter is more than a season. It is who we are called to be 24/7. We cannot fall into a trap of living as part-time disciples. Let us strive to keep Christ at the center of our lives and present in all that we do. 

 Now go forth and be a joyful witness!

Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director of the Office of Priest Personnel in the Diocese of San Bernardino.