Randy Budnar

Budnar

When a basketball team is missing shots and is off in their teamwork and th=en recovers and starts playing well again, we say they have new life in them.

Similarly, if a team gets way behind and seems to give up by halftime, but then comes out for with new energy and hope, we might say the bench breathed life into them.

Holy Week, which leads up to Easter, reminds me of a line from a song I learned when I was a child: “New life is what we have been given by the Lord.” For Christians, Easter marks when Jesus gave us new life in his resurrection.

New life can be more than just the literal meaning of the phrase.

I know a person who was struggling at his job because he was in conflict with his coworkers. He wanted to change, but he felt was in too deep. He was also stuck in some bad relationship problems and it was draining the life out of him.

Eventually, he decided to make a new start. He got a new job, which also required him to move to a new place. He decided he was going to treat people better and create good work relationships with his coworkers.

After some time, he succeeded and would tell you that his new life is much better than his old one.

For Christians, that is the good news about Easter. Jesus gives us new life.

Just as the basketball team that was being defeated can be filled with hope that it can win – by playing with more energy and with more fun – we, too, can change our outlook.

The person who feels drained by a job and so has little energy to enjoy life can change, as well. It might not require a new job and a new location. What is needed is hope that it can change and a strategy to work on it. New life is very possible.

The same can be true of family relationships.

Sometimes they love their family deeply and want to be around them, but the relationships can be draining because of fear of the conflicts and stress that can arise. This can change. New life can come.

Again, what is needed is hope that it can happen, along with a strategy, a lot of patience, some insights and wisdom and possibly forgiveness. With all of these good things going on, renewing our family lives is very possible.

Jesus showed us this during Holy Week. What makes this week Holy for Christians is that we prepare for Easter by looking at, reflecting on and striving to understand what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection

Before Jesus died, he had supper with the Apostles. He assured them though his body and his blood in the form of bread and wine that new life was possible, that no one has to live without hope.

On Good Friday, the Apostles had a lot of reasons to lose hope. Jesus was condemned to die as a criminal, and he was disgraced with a crown of thorns. He had to carry the cross on which he would die, had nails pounded through his hands and feet.

No one stood up for him. People were mocking him. Nothing seemed to go right for him, and his life seemed to be wasted.

The disciples felt the loss even more on Holy Saturday, while Jesus lay dead. With no hope, there seemed nothing left to do but try and survive. They might have felt that everyone was against them.

The Romans could have decided that Jesus’ disciples should die too. Anyone could have turned them in to the Romans.

That changed on Easter Sunday when Jesus rose from the dead. He appeared to his disciples that day and over the next 50 days, and hope started to build in them. Their joy came back stronger than ever.

They were still in the same situation with the Romans, but with the hope and joy Jesus gave them, they had new energy, new insights, new joy. They had new life.

Easter reminds us that hope, joy and peace are always possible. New life is our gift to receive.

The Rev. Randy Budnar is pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Stoughton.