Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

Two Studies for Easter

Colossians 3:1-4

Think and Act From Above

Popular Translation

1 If God raised you together with Jesus, then try to see the world the way Jesus sees it (that is, from heaven). 2 Understand how Jesus sees things. Don't just look at everything the way people do. 3 For you died to yourself when you became a follower of Jesus. Your new life is hidden in Jesus with God. 4 But, when Jesus, who is your life, should show himself, you will be there with him. And you will have God's glory!

Literal Translation

1 If then you were raised together in Christ, seek the upward (things) where Christ is sitting at the right (hand) of God. 2 Understand the upward (things), not the (things) on earth. 3 For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, your life, should appear, then you will appear with him in glory.

There has been some controversy among scholars whether Paul or a disciple wrote the letter to the Colossians. Nevertheless, the letter did address some concrete problems for the community, especially ethical living. 3:1-4 acted as a prologue to the author's appeal for an upright lifestyle.

The author began with an interesting statement. He assumed the Colossians had already died (3:3a) and had received resurrected life (3:1a & 3:3b). Theologians call this belief "realized eschatology" (the word "eschatology" literally means "study of the end times"). Somehow, the believer had already died with Christ and had been raised with him into his new life. In essence, this was the teaching on baptism: death to self, life in Christ. So, we can make a reasonable assumption that the author referred to initiation rites of the Church.

Now that the believer has received Christ's risen life, he or she should think differently (the upward or heavenly things). In other words, he or she should look at life through God's eyes. After all, the believer did receive the Holy Spirit. He or she should act accordingly (see 3:12-24) and not like those who live immoral lives (see 3:5-11).

Finally, the author did indicate that the risen life the believers had received was not fully present. That would come when Christ returned in glory (3:4). Until then, Christian had to wait. (Theologians hold the author had a"partially realized eschatology;" the seeds of the end time were present and active, but not fully revealed.)

Reflect on your baptism. How have you tried to see your life in Christ? Does such a view change your outlook?

1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

Clean Out the Old Yeast!

Popular Translation

6b Don't you know that even a small speck of yeast can ruin the entire batter of bread dough? 7-8 Clean out the old yeast! Then you will be like new bread dough, free from yeast, just like the bread for the Passover meal. And the bread you share at the Lord's table. Sin is like bad yeast. So, we should celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus free from sin. For, Jesus was sacrificed for us, just like the lamb that is prepared for the Passover meal.

Literal Translation

6b Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the entire (grain) batter? 7 (Completely) clean out the old yeast, so that you might be a new (grain) batter, just as you are unleavened. For, Christ, our Passover lamb, was sacrificed. 8 So, we should keep the (Passover) festival, not in the old yeast, neither in the yeast of wickedness nor evil, but in unleavened purity and truth.

In 1 Corinthians 5-6, Paul railed against the loose attitudes of some in the community. These people bragged about their fellowship with an incestuous Christian! (5:1) Paul was appalled by their actions and insisted upon excommunication for the sinner (5:2-6a). Paul's rant led up to his warning. Using the analogy of the Passover meal, Paul urged repentance in the community.

Repentance was, of course, a turning away from sin. And a turning toward God. The turning away implied a change of heart and mind. It also meant a rejection of the past. In a very real way, the incestuous Christian represented such a sinful past. His presence was the "yeast" that could spoil the batter that would produce the unleavened bread for the Passover celebration. Notice the Eucharistic undercurrent. If the evil, whether it was the man or the attitude of boastful acceptance, were allowed to remain, the Christian celebration of the Passover (i.e., "the Lord's Supper"), would be polluted ("unclean") and, so, not worthy of true worship. So, excommunication and repentance were the preferred way. God expected the worship of the humble hearted and those who came to be forgiven. Not the arrogant and the scandalous.

Easter is the time to celebrate the newness of life. It is not too late to change. Just as Lent is a prelude to Eastertide, this joyous holiday is an extension of the repentant spirit.

Reflect on your Lent. What did you accomplish? What is left undone? Leave both at the altar. And praise God for the gift of new life!