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THE MYSTERY OF SALVATION THAT WE PREACH
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, the Feast of St. Matthias, May 14, 2012
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26, Ps. 112, John 15:9-17


"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love" (John 15:9).


Today we celebrate the Feast of St Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas as one of the twelve apostles. Someone had to be chosen to join the eleven, someone who, like them, had been a disciple of Jesus from the baptism of John until the ascension who could, together with them, give witness to the resurrection (Acts 1:21-22). No one saw the resurrection, but the eleven apostles saw and ate with Jesus after his resurrection, and were with him during his entire ministry so that they could verify and testify that the one whom they saw risen was the same one with whom they had previously lived. An apostle is more than just a witness to the resurrection, but at that early time it was very important that there be eyewitnesses who had seen him risen and who could verify that he was the same one they had lived with before his resurrection. These eyewitnesses were essential, because the risen Jesus did not appear to the whole people. His crucifixion was public. Everyone saw it. But his resurrection was private; only his disciples saw it-hence the need for eyewitnesses of his resurrection to testify before the people.


In reality, though, the apostles gave witness to the whole paschal mystery, to the salvific character of Christ's death in the cross for our sins, and to the meaning of his resurrection as his victory over death. They gave witness that the death of Christ destroyed our death, and that Christ triumphed over our death in his resurrection. Death is the punishment for sin (Wis. 2:24; Rom. 5:12). Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross thus destroying the punitive and eternal character of death. His death is the death of our death as eternal punishment, and his resurrection is the beginning of our new and eternal life in God. The apostles preached God's salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for all who believe in him, confessing their sins. They preached this salvation and forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus that he suffered for our sins on the cross (1 Pet 3:18; 2:24) in his flesh (Rom. 8:3). They preached his death as atoning for our sins by his blood (Rom. 3:25). They preached that he is the Lamb of God who by being sacrificed redeemed us with his blood from our sins (1 Pet. 1:18-19; John 1:29).


This is the basic New Testament kerygma (proclamation) that the Church preaches to the present day. Those who preach the gospel today preach this same mystery of faith and salvation. This is what every preacher is sent out to preach today for the salvation and reconciliation of the world with God. To preach this message preachers are sent out by Christ into the whole world, to all nations and peoples.


Through Christ's death and resurrection we receive not only forgiveness of sins but also new life, the life of God, and through Jesus Christ we live in the love of God, which is the love of the Father for the Son in the Holy Spirit. We are inserted into this stream of divine love which flows eternally between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. Christ redeemed us with his death and resurrection, and now he loves us as he is loved by his Father. He loves us with the same love of the Father with which he himself is loved. And he wants us to remain in this love. "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love" (John 15:9). We remain in his love by obeying him (John 15:10), by doing his will; and we know what his will for us is through his two great commandments (Mark 12:30-31).

 

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