In the midst of this worldwide pandemic, in a time of great anxiety and uncertainty, Christians everywhere are stopping to reflect on the most sacred mysteries of our faith, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have journeyed with Jesus to Jerusalem and experienced the very worst of human cruelty, selfishness, and sinfulness. Surrendered entirely to in an act of complete and selfless love. And now Easter is here. The definitive theme of Easter, the one that all the readings, music, and symbols speak to today is one of joy, overwhelming joy. Joy at the life changing truth that our Lord Jesus is risen from the dead. What does that mean to you and I? It means that love has triumphed, that God has kept his promises – from the fall of Adam and Eve, from the day death entered the world, God had promised a redeemer, one who would conquer death. This is the Good News, this is the source of our Easter Joy – that death is not the end, but a new beginning for all who believe in Jesus Christ and as a result, everything has changed.
Do we believe that? Or is it too good to be true? Is this all an elaborate story, a myth to give us false hope, to placate us? Or maybe we do believe, but in a vague superficial way? In a way that really makes no difference in the way I live my life?
Those Christians who were persecuted and died for their belief in the resurrection of Jesus would tell us otherwise. They did so because they knew Him. Because they not only believed in the witness of others, but had encountered Him personally, had come to the realization that through the gift of Baptism, God now lives within me. I can speak to Him, have a relationship with Him, give my problems and struggles to Him, be at peace in Him. To believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is to believe that every action of mine means something. Every sin or act of love, weakens me or makes me more like Him. Every suffering and struggle I go through has value, can become holy and meaningful (and what an opportunity we’ve had these past few weeks!). Life has meaning in Him, because He has conquered death, opened the gates of heaven, and calls us to Himself.
My prayer is that each of us in some small way may encounter our risen Lord Jesus – who is the source of true Joy, may we come to know Him anew as a friend, as a savior, as our Lord. Although we may not be able to receive Him in the Eucharist this day, that does not stop us from receiving His life, His Spirit, His love in our hearts. May the Risen Jesus fill us with that Resurrection Joy this Easter, and all 50 days of this Easter Season. May that Joy renew our families, may it renew our parish, may it renew the whole world, because brothers and sisters, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. The tomb is Empty, and Our Lord is truly Risen!