You’d Think it Easy…


Thomas Merton

Easter is the hour of our own deliverance— from what? Precisely from Lent and from its hard Law which accuses and judges our infirmity. We are no longer under the Law. We are delivered from the harsh judgment! Here is all the greatness and all the unimaginable splendor of the Easter mystery— here is the “grace” of Easter which we fail to lay hands on because we are afraid to understand its full meaning. To understand Easter and live it, we must renounce our dread of newness and of freedom!

Death exercises a twofold power in our lives: it holds us by sin, and it holds us by the Law. To die to death and live a new life in Christ we must die not only to sin but also to the Law.

Every Christian knows that he must die to sin. But the great truth that St Paul exhausted himself to preach in season and out is a truth that we Christians have barely grasped, a truth that has got away from us, that constantly eludes us and has continued to do so for twenty centuries. We cannot get it into our heads what it means to be no longer slaves of the Law. And the reason is that we do not have the courage to face this truth which contains in itself the crucial challenge of our Christian faith, the great reality that makes Christianity different from every other religion.

In all other religions men seek justification, salvation, escape from “the wheel of birth and death” by ritual acts, or by religious observances, or by ascetic and contemplative techniques. These are means devised by men to enable them to liberate and justify themselves. All the other religions impose upon man rigid and complicated laws, subject him more or less completely to prescribed exterior forms, or to what St Paul calls “elementary notions.”

But Christianity is precisely a liberation from every rigid legal and religious system. This is asserted with such categorical force by St Paul, that we cease to be Christians the moment our religion becomes slavery to “the Law” rather than a free personal adherence by loving faith, to the risen and living Christ; “Do you seek justification by the Law . . . you are fallen from grace . . . In fact, in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor its absence is of any avail. What counts is faith that expresses itself in love” (Gal. 5: 4,6).

. . . This gift, this mercy, this unbounded love of God for us has been lavished upon us as a result of Christ’s victory. To taste this love is to share in His victory. To realize our freedom, to exult in our liberation from death, from sin and from the Law, is to sing the Alleluia which truly glorifies God in this world and in the world to come.

This joy in God, this freedom which raises us in faith and in hope above the bitter struggle that is the lot of man caught between the flesh and the Law, this is the new canticle in which we join with the blessed angels and the saints in praising God.

God who is rich in mercy, was moved by the intense love with which he loved us, and when we were dead by reason of our transgressions, he made us live with the life of Christ . . . Together with Christ Jesus and in him he raised us up and enthroned us in the heavenly realm . . . It is by grace that you have been saved through faith; it is the gift of God, it is not the result of anything you did, so that no one has any grounds for boasting. (Eph. 2: 4– 9)

Let us not then darken the joy of Christ’s victory by remaining in captivity and in darkness, but let us declare His power, by living as free men who have been called by Him out of darkness into his admirable light.

Seasons of Celebration
Merton, Thomas

We are always so blaming God for the situation with sin and then the situation with Religion, yet both are utterly of our making and none of His doing. And if God takes away sin and the Law in Christ giving us true freedom—what will we do? We will construct new religious rules, new obstacles, new principles and formulas to be rigorously adhered to to keep us from our freedom.

Because freedom is what we fear; and when we fear we build constructs like religious ones.

The most basic human instincts are religious – meaning to try and create life apart from God in our image – using the very image of God that God gave us. As the prophets say, we will just grab a piece of wood and carve an idol out of it to worship, using the shavings to build a fire for dinner —pretending that the shavings did not come from the idol itself we now worship.

easterYou laugh, but you pretend pieces of paper (wood) in your wallet have value and that “00’s” in accounts mean something existential (as do awards).

Today is Easter—the day the God/Man got up; the day the men stayed away timid in some upper room but the women came to annoint a body already gone…

“Why have you come to seek the Living One among the dead?” asked two lightening -clad men.

This is always the question when it comes to Religion.

The Living One speaks today, same as He always does: “My Father will raise you up the same way—sin and death have no hold over you.” This means you are truly free. No one can stop you. Not really; not for long.

So stop being afraid. We all die—momentarily—but the cycle was broken and now you too will get up. Nothing can change that now if you are found in Jesus, and joined with Him. Lay aside dead religion and the Law and run in newness of Life by the Spirit.

You would think it easy…to lay aside the two things we really say we hate most…Guilt and Religion—especially since God doesn’t want us to live in these things and has given us a living way out of them. But like people caught in violent co-dependent relationship with an abuser we have to decide to walk away.

And so many people don;t walk away.

But you? Walk away. God wants you to. Easter is the perfect day, no?


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