Let’s talk about this beautiful day – Easter Sunday.
Easter is the feast of all feasts. The feast of Christmas did not even exist for the first two centuries of the church’s life, but Christianity is inconceivable without Easter. This feast is the contact point between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament for it occurred on the anniversary of the Exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage and fulfills the promise in that central event in Israel’s history.
Easter is about the triumph of a positive spiritual realm over the disbelief and cynicism of a wicked world. All who are tempted to give up on God are offered hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s deliverance of Jesus from the tomb reveals the secret hopes of the human heart, that there can be love, that there can be peace, that life can be based on kindness, that wrecked relationships can be mended, that there is not only a purpose to life but that it has to do with serving a good, loving, rescuing God– that’s what Easter proclaims.
And that’s what every echo of Easter– every first day of the week, all year long, when we gather to celebrate this first day of the week–what every echo of Easter tells the world. Whoever you are, Christ has risen to encourage you, to invite you, to tell you “Here’s the life which is saved for you .” It is eternal, it is a gift that offers you a life never ending of peace, freedom from worry of any kind and the opportunity to be forever with those you have loved That’s what God has achieved. That’s what God continues to make happen, in lives all around us. People believe in Easter and it gives them power–they turn themselves over to Christ, and what God can do in Christ gives them the resurrection life, the new life here and now.
Jesus tells Mary not to hold him because he needs to ascend. He has to become universally and always available. Everyone can be rescued by the Risen Christ from peering into darkness and grasping at temporary comforts. Christ has been raised. We are set free to be Easter people. That means we can – if we choose – to set our minds on things that are above, lofty things, good things. We hold our own head up, we can take the longer view, we can trust in the power and care of the God who has made us, to believe in the power of love that Christ has for us.
The Easter Good News is, in fact, the core or center of the Gospel: Jesus Christ has died and now lives! His “love to the end” in the end has triumphed.!
“Love to the end.” I All the days of the Easter Triduum, from Holy Thursday through Easter Day, have a particular emphasis, but all of them together form one prolonged celebration of the central mystery of our faith: the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. As you and I have been reliving Christ’s Dying and Rising in these days of the Easter Triduum, we see so clearly revealed before us the love Christ has for each of us — it’s love for each member of the human family –whoever they are, whatever they are, whether they are rich or poor, healthy or sick, beautiful or just average, it is a love that surrounds, accompanies us and strengthens us, it is a love forever faithful and enduring, it is truly “love to the end;” not only to the end of Christ’s earthly life, but love continuing on, because today we proclaim that Christ is the Risen Lord, and, therefore, His love remains to the end of time into eternity.
Christ’s “love to the end” in the end has triumphed. Because He has triumphed over sin and death, He gives us newness of life. This celebration of Easter pulsates with this gift: It is and can be a radical newness! Nothing is the same again! Sin will never have the final victory nor will human death! As we pray over and over throughout the Easter season and indeed throughout the year: “Dying, You destroyed our death, rising You restored our life, Lord Jesus, come in glory!” If you are an Easter or Christmas Catholic, this is your opportunity. This is your time to seize the newness and hope of this day. This is your time to once again believe in what the death and resurrection of Jesus meant. It was for you. He rose so that you could see that there is life after death. If you are an every Sunday Catholic, this is your chance to renew and to take that renewed belief and translate into action. To allow everything you do to reflect Him in his glory. To be that light of Christ which we have heard throughout these three holy days.
This “newness of life,” the result of Christ’s “love to the end,” is made visible for us through symbols. We see before us in the sanctuary the newly blessed Paschal Candle, whose flame symbolizes Christ the Light. Yes, Christ is our Light, going before us to lead us in our pilgrimage through life, dispelling the darkness of sin and death, warming us in our loneliness and difficulties, guiding us in our uncertainty and fears.
This “newness of life,” the result of Christ’s “love to the end,” is likewise made visible through the symbol of water. Soon, you will be sprinkled with water, which was blessed last night during the Easter Vigil. This water symbolizes Christ our Life, who strengthens us to live daily according to His Gospel and the teachings of the Church His Body of which we are members.
This “newness of life,” the result of Christ’s “love to the end,” is also made visible in the reality of the Eucharist, both sacrament and sacrifice, the Eucharist we celebrate with such faith and joy today, where in our midst the dying and rising of Christ is made present, where Christ’s Real Presence continues among us in the Blessed Sacrament. In the Eucharist, Christ’s “love to the end” is revealed in a unique way and He remains to be our nourishment on the journey that ends at our Father’s House.
On this Easter Sunday Jesus calls us to be his messengers. At the same time let us thank God for the gift of the risen Jesus given once again to us. This Resurrected Jesus gives us his message of peace as he gave to all the disciples every time he met them. Today as we celebrate his rising from the dead he gives the same message of peace. We pray that this peace will remain in our hearts always to make us his messengers in the world of today. We pray that peace will triumph over what seems to be the madness of the secular world.
But, the celebration of Easter is a call
He was born in order to become, by His dying and rising, the One Savior of the world, our Savior! Today. And his call to each of us is to renew our commitment to live in closer union with the Risen Lord Jesus. Let us ask the Lord to deepen His life within us and to make us His witnesses of Easter joy and hope. Let us promise our Risen Savior and Lord that we will follow Him, our Light and our Life every day and invite others to come to Him by the witness of our lives — our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends — everyone we meet! With Christ the Risen One, let us make all things new — with the joy and hope He gives! With Christ the Risen One, Let us be Easter People! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!