By: Mary Rzepka
Today, while reflecting on one of the daily meditations from the Magnificat for the Octave of Easter, a few lines, written by Sr. Aemiliana Löhr, particularly struck me. She says,
The true height and fulfillment of the Easter night lies over and beyond the world of time in the rising of the last day and the dawn of eternity. And that must be the victory of the feast for us: the unshakeable certainty that we are beyond time, in eternity that we have passed over to our home above. The pain of this time cannot reach the deep places in us any longer (emphasis added).
As Christians, we are called to live in the joy of the resurrection – now. We must have “unshakeable certainty” that Jesus has already won the great battle for our world. However, I feel like many of us, myself included, at times live as if the battle is lost, or as if we are losing ground. The challenges we currently face in the U.S. and the world paint a dark picture for humanity. Political upheavals throughout the globe, terrorism, rising tensions in Asia, and an increasingly hostile perspective towards Christian values can leave all of us discouraged.
As 2016 came to a close, social media exploded with statements that it had been the “worst year ever.” Given the many difficult events that occurred globally during 2016, I can understand this perspective. However, despite the difficulties 2016 brought, I never once shared in this sentiment. The preceding 2015 Jubilee Year of Mercy was a time of extraordinary grace in my life. Jesus worked through deep wounds in my heart that had manifested themselves in many painful ways throughout my 26 years of life. As a result of this challenging but extraordinary year of grace, I experienced more freedom, joy, and peace in 2016 than in any previous period of my life. The culmination of this year of grace was my application and admission to graduate school at Duke, where I am now pursuing a Masters in Public Policy.
This significant life change, which involved quitting a great job and completely reorienting my career trajectory, has not been without its challenges. The most difficult challenge involved leaving my long-time Christian community in Michigan. However, throughout the emotional ups and downs of the past eight months, the overarching state of my soul has still been peace. This peace comes from the unshakeable certainty of knowing I am working on the path Jesus has set before me.
As Christians, we share in Christ’s victory over sin and death. The battle is already won. We have every reason to walk in confidence, peace, and joy. We know who wins the war, and we fight in the Victor’s army. At the Easter Vigil, we heard the Lord’s truth proclaimed from Isaiah:
Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken.
The world tells you a different story, because it has “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:25). When the world around you appears to be crumbling, do not give in to discouragement. This is the enemy’s desire. Rather, recall Jesus words to us in John 16:33:
I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
One day, the veil over this world will be pulled back, and the beauty of God’s masterful plan revealed. Until then, live in the confidence and joy of the Resurrection. Christ the Victor has won the battle for our souls, and no earthly turmoil can take his victory from us.
Bio: Originally from Saline, MI, Mary is a 2010 and 2012 graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. She worked in Southeast Michigan for four years post-college as a CPA before returning to school at Duke University, where she is now pursuing a Masters of Public Policy. Mary returned to school after experiencing the Lord’s call to serve him in the public sphere. This summer she will intern with the majority staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington D.C. St. John Paul II is her hero, and his proclamation to “be not afraid” is the impetus for her work in public policy.