Theme: Death has been defeated
This is a great night, what does it communicate to you? When God made us he drew us from the depths of the immense ocean of his love. He set us on this earthly shore and invited us, by means of a deeply embedded desire for him, to freely return to him in love. From the very beginning our existence therefore, our deepest essence, was ordered to a relationship with God.
Every tribe and nation from the very commencement of human history has somehow lived this truth and expressed it culturally as religious seeking. God created us and established us in an inescapable relationship with him; inescapable because it is part of our very constitution, like our need for oxygen and water, sunlight and food.
God saw that it was good.
When Adam and Eve turned from God they turned also from their own inner self and from each other. We could say they found themselves in disgrace. Their destiny to return to God could now no longer be accomplished. They, and we, were doomed to live in a profound inner frustration which could never be resolved; made for union with God it was now no longer possible to reach him ever. The story of Adam and Eve’s rejection of God was repeated many times throughout history. Every time God made overtures of love towards us we, so to speak, “ran away: … the more I called to them, the further they went from me” Hosea 11:2.
The correct word for this running away from God is sin. It started with Adam and Eve and it continues to this present day, in fact, it is everywhere. And strangely, as Lent made clear, just as, humanly speaking, the desperate awfulness of the Cross makes sense only when we realize that its victim is totally innocent, so too the ecstasy of Easter makes sense only if we remember that we are sinners. If on every page Sacred Scripture reveals the incomprehensible love of God for his people, it also reveals their determined and reprehensible refusal to respond.
Awareness of sin doesn’t put a damper on the joy of Easter, it is part of its essential glory, the very foundation of its victory. Those of us who suffer from the modern reluctance, even refusal, to allow the reality of sin on to the stage of the human drama, will inevitably find that their celebration of Easter is reduced either to a vague and impoverished notion of ‘poor Jesus on the Cross’, or to a hunt for roasted meat and good meal with the children and a big sleep in the afternoon.
New Testament reading: Romans 6:3-11
We have read in Romans Paul’s classical statement about Baptism. This is no mere sprinkling of water; it means going down into the tomb with Christ, a burial with him in which we leave the old life and emerge, clothed with the resurrection of Christ. It assures us that in the future, we will share in the glory that now Christ possesses with the Father. The Career of Christ is to be our career. The world that he entered was under the dominion of sin and death. He became a ‘curse’ cf. Galatians 3:13 and God made him be sin he who knew no sin cf. 2Corinthians 5:21. At the end, God raised him from the dead. By our baptism we too have gone into the tomb with him and shared his death because of our sin. We need to make this a reality by repeating with Paul that “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” Galatians 2:20. This is the privilege that Easter restores on us every moment we celebrate it.
The Gospel: Matthew 228:1-10
Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, three ladies go to the grave to embalm the body of Jesus. To their surprise, the grave is empty and the body is no longer there. Then they hear a voice calling upon them not to be afraid. The discourse continues that you are searching for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified? He is not here, he is risen. The invitation is extended to them to come and see the place where he lay. The ladies are instructed to go and tell the disciples and Peter that the risen Lord is going before you to Galilee; it is there that you will see him just as he told you. Not to be afraid means to go back to daily duties with the conviction that Jesus who is alive is present there. Not to be afraid is to make the known to all those who seek it. For this is the good news which men and women are waiting for. At times we look among the dead for the one who is alive. Easter message announces that he is not dead but alive.
He is the most alive and he lives to give us life. In Christ our Christian life becomes a commitment to live our lives to the full. It is a determination to reject sin and live in the liberty of the children of God. Easter is for us to believe in God the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth. Easter is to believe in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. Easter cements the foundations of the Catholic Church, affirms the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Easter is indeed the great mystery of faith in which we are all called to proclaim his death, celebrate his resurrection while awaiting his return in glory.
Easter is all about what God should have done to us sinners but didn’t
What do you do with a dog who, despite your best efforts, refuses to obey you? Who even bites you? What do you do with a fruit tree that won't bear fruit? What would you expect God to do with a people who, century after century, continue to defy him to his face? What would you have done? Easter is about what God should have done to us sinners but didn’t. We might put the dog down or pull the fruit tree out by the roots but God says: “My heart recoils from it, my whole being trembles at the thought. I will not give rein to my fierce anger … for I am God, not man: I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy” Hosea 11:8-9. And so God himself, the heavenly Father, sent to us a man called Jesus born of a woman named Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. This man came to do the will of God his Father and to give him the loving obedience we refused him. All that God had been looking for in the human race he finally found in Jesus; and finding it in Jesus he found it in mankind. Finally God’s yearning for a true relationship with his people was satisfied. When we killed Jesus; that was the most loathsome expression of our sinfulness. The passion and death of Jesus was the ‘test’ that God had in store for him and we were the ones who put him to that test. God was taking our own evil and making it a part of his plan, to show us how much He loved us and how much we are worth in his eyes.
And now he is Risen! He has conquered death .. and in Him .. we have all conquered death. Alleluia. O Death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory?
Let no one bewail his poverty, For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death, For death has been defeated once and for all.
Christ is risen, and you have been overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion from ages to all ages.
The tomb is Empty
Jesus has appeared
The fearful have become courageous.
Easter is the time to make our faith visible. We are invited to believe in the great mystery of our faith as we always repeat the same during Holy Mass that:
We proclaim your death Lord Jesus
We celebrate your resurrection
We await your glorious return as we sing the continuous Alleluia.
We has an assignment though; to go out and reconcile humanity that is still falling apart; to go out and change the world beginning with ourselves; to visibly love the poor and heal the past wounds so as to enjoy the present. Peace be with you.