Today, we welcome Doug Lee to our stable of contributors. Doug and his wife Cindy make their home in Los Angeles, CA. He is in the empty-nester chapter of his life. He is a part-time Christian freelance writer and also enjoys writing anonymously for a self-help service group. He teaches religious education, volunteers as a chaplain, and serves in various other ministries.
As a contributor, he hopes to re-orient hearts toward Christ and inspire readers to dig deeper into their faith, and he also wants to encourage our brothers and sisters who have drifted away from the Church to return home.
Gospel for Easter Vigil
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would
As I sat stranded at home because of the State order to stay in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic and began to reflect on the Gospel for Holy Saturday, some thoughts bouncing around in my head distracted me. Once a week, I publicly stood and professed my faith, but have I met his call to discipleship? I wondered. Is my life honoring Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary?
My level of commitment to Christ was not where it should be. The people, possessions, and activities I treasured the most affected my relationship with God. I loved my wife, children, gadgets, and channel-flicking. Yes, I loved the life I put together and all the extras more than I wanted to admit.
But our friendship and union with Christ calls for the cross. A cross that comes from walking alongside Jesus, even when it demands hardship and sacrifice, seeking communion with him who conquered death to pay for our sins. He promises the fullness of life when we choose life together with him — a life many still reject.
I know God calls us to love him more than others, including members of our families and dear friends. But this does not mean we must hold back the love we have for them. The graces we gain from each act of self-denial, the putting aside of egos and possessions, whether the sacrifices are large or small, make it possible for us to live more fully for God and to love our families and friends that much more.
Our Lord suffered and remained faithful upon death. He rose again as he predicted. Jesus is now at the right hand of God and wants us to make our home in the Kingdom of Heaven with him someday. It is the reason He came down to us. It is the reason he surrendered His life on the cross. Christ considers us his friends and promises to ask the Father to prepare a special place for us in his Heavenly Kingdom. We can always trust in his promises.
Jesus’ death on the cross should be our inspiration to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). He is our fount for spiritual strength and our reason for hope. God is everything. Through Christ, a life of abundance becomes possible — to choose him is to choose life.
We are beloved sons and daughters of the Father through our faith in Jesus Christ. He waits for our safe return. It should give us hope and joy that the Father promised us a nice room upon our arrival. The place searched for our whole lives will be unveiled in all its glory upon arrival. Through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, death, sorrow, and pain will come to a halt, our daily battles will end, and peace and joy will reign forever.
Jesus died for us, and He rose on the third day. On this truth of the resurrection, our joy must originate. Rejoice in Him always. Remain united to Christ with faith and grace through the hardships and fears facing us today, and we will rise from the tomb of the pandemic to live in our churches, schools, and communities as we once did.
May our words and deeds be worthy of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and victory over death for you and me. Alleluia, He has Risen!
(Today’s OXYGEN by Doug Lee)
Prayer: Lord, help us from getting too comfortable with the things of this world that we forget who we are as disciples. And during this pandemic that has overrun our lives, help us see the opportunities to sacrifice for others, especially the seniors in our neighborhoods who are at most risk. Lord Jesus, may we never fail to remember your defeat over death so we may live.
Thanksgiving: Jesus, we thank you for your friendship, the gift of salvation, and your help during these times of hardship. Bring forth your healing and comforting presence to our families and communities. And thank you for the outpouring of love and mercy we so much need during these tough times.