The images and concepts of Eastertide often seem more difficult for us to grasp than those of Lent. Christ’s victory over death can elude us, while the stark horror of the cross demands attention. Ashes as Lent begins, fasting during Lent and the disaster of Good Friday we can cope with, yet what resurrection offers can seem nebulous. Likewise glorification, ascension into heaven and eternal life. These are difficult ideas.
The Church often refers to what we do in the mass as the “mysteries”. Before the Eucharistic prayer, we pray today that we will always find “delight in these Paschal and Easter mysteries”; “so that the renewal constantly at work within us may be the cause of unending joy”. That phrase “renewal constantly at work within us” refers to what the word of God has done within us in the scripture readings and to what the Holy Spirit of Jesus is doing within us during the Eucharistic prayer and Holy Communion – a work which continues after we leave the church.
A most important part of the mass comes when, after the words of consecration, the priest announces “the mystery of faith”. Your response signifies that you believe what the words of consecration signify (“this is my body”and “this is my blood”). The mystery of faith and the mysteries of our faith (the sacraments) are not puzzles to be solved. They express what we believe; what we hold to be true; what we live by.
In this time of resurrection Saint John’s gospel offers us images which are simple to understand and which deepen our faith. “I am the bread of life”: bread that strengthens our faith. ”I am the light of the world”: we will not stumble in the dark; we will find the way to eternal life. “I am the gate of the sheepfold”: if you enter through the gate, through Christ, the door of mercy, you will be safe. “I am the good shepherd”: “I know (love) my own and my own know me”. The good shepherd does everything for our good; even giving his life that we might have life; to the full, eternal life; and that we might offer this life to others.