Easter Sunday is the Sunday of Sundays! It is the day on which all are other Sundays are modeled. On Easter, Jesus overcame death and the powers of darkness. Two days ago it might have seemed otherwise. On Friday we remembered Christ’s passion and death. Now death and darkness have been dispelled!
The Resurrection is the bedrock of the Faith. It is our central belief. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain and we have been the greatest of fools. The Resurrection of Jesus is the great assurance of God the Father that our lives are meaningful and have a supreme purpose and destiny with Him. Through Baptism, we are grafted onto Jesus. We are identified with Him and He with us. He was fully human so He shared every aspect of human existence including pain and suffering. Like Him, we too carry crosses that may maim and scar us but they do not have the last word. The God of Life, Who made every human being in His image and likeness, intends that we enjoy the fullness of life with Him.
If there was no Resurrection, who would follow an itinerant rabbi with an apparently failed mission? Who would follow a man who received the death sentence reserved for rebels or the most base criminals in the Roman Empire? And yet the stellar figures of that Empire are long gone and forgotten. Are there any modern day adherents of Pontius Pilate, or the emperor Tiberius or even the great Augustus? Some Romans thought the emperor was a divine figure yet no lasting cults or followings have developed around those men. A man like Pilate would be basically unknown except for his part in the story of Jesus’ Passion and death. Yet it is the itinerant Rabbi, Who preached publically for about three years; Who has a following of over a billion men and women two thousand years later! What did He have that the important people of His time did not have? Aside from being the iconic witness of God’s compassionate love, Jesus overcame the two great enemies of humankind: death and sin. Neither the worthies of Christ’s time nor ours could not do that!
Hope has been restored. The English language utilizes the word “Easter” for the feast of the Resurrection. Other languages use more Biblically based terms. In Old English “easter” probably meant “springtime” or even the goddess of springtime. Springtime heralds the annual renewal of nature. In the springtime, we celebrate the ultimate renewal of life in the Resurrection of Jesus. Each Gospel grapples with this new reality for which words did not exist. The apostles and their companions had experienced Jesus’ death but now they knew that He lived. The powerful experience of the Risen One transformed these failed, fearful disciples into a powerhouse that changed the world. So convinced were the Apostles and millions of Christians since them, that they were quite willing to face persecution and martyrdom for this belief. They firmly believed what St. Paul would later write: “the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor has the heart felt what God has prepared for those who love Him”. Death is not the end. Life is changed but it is not ended!
With hearts brimming over with joy and hope, we can shout “Jesus Christ, the Lord, has risen today. Alleluia”!
With hearts filled with Easter joy, Father Greg, Deacons Ed Smolinski and Dean Dobbins, the staffs of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Academy, the Religious Education Program, and the parish workers, as well as the Marist Brothers Provincial Team (who reside in the parish convent), join me in wishing all of you and your families, friends and neighbors a glorious, and joyful Easter.
In the Risen Christ,
Monsignor John A. McGuirl