[COLUMN] The church is alive!


We’re still in Easter! But Easter is not just a one-day celebration. It goes on until the day of Pentecost when we celebrate the full impact of salvation on the world and the outpouring of God’s life. And so, we still greet one another with Happy Easter!

What amazed me last Sunday (April 9) was the many people that came to all our Masses. It defied all the statistical odds of Mass attendance that we read today. We still have people who believe in God and see the blessings of attending church. Many parishioners still have faith despite being called “cultural Catholics.” We’ll have to work harder to persuade other people to engage more in their Christian faith.

The church is alive because the Risen Jesus would never abandon his church. He told his disciples at the end of the Gospel of Matthew: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So, we don’t live our faith in desperation because we’re people of hope! It’s what the Resurrection is all about. As St. Paul says in Romans 6:8-11:

“If we have died with Christ, we believe we are also to live with him. We know that Christ, once raised from the dead, will never die again; death has no more power over him. His death was death to sin, once for all; his life is life for God. In the same way, you must consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.”

Indeed, we’re alive because we believe in the Spirit of Jesus that abides in us. His Spirit encourages,  inspires, renews, and awakens our faith. It’s His     Divine Mercy that brings joy and newness to our lives.

We’re not the doubting and pessimistic “Thomases” that hide desperately from other community members; it’s deadly to commit oneself to this isolated life. Instead, we’re the believing, hopeful, caring, and devoted “Thomases” who see the essence, joy, and meaning of being part of a Christian community.

The faith we live, or practice depends not on “seeing” but on the whole experience of the sacramental signs and the loving and caring   Christian community. We try our best to observe the four components of the First Christian Community: fidelity in listening to the instruction of the apostles (priests and bishops), a life of familial  communion (koinonia), the breaking of bread (Eucharist), and common prayer (pietistic, devotional and liturgical life).

Hence, we cling to the words from the Gospel of John this Second Sunday of Easter: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

A Blessed Divine Mercy Sunday to all of you!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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