Celebrating And Living Our Easter Faith
Have you ever wondered what Peter and John were thinking as they ran to the tomb that first Easter morning? They had come from the upper room where the remaining apostles had huddled together in fear since Jesus’ death on Good Friday. There they brooded over the events of the previous days, no doubt overwhelmed with feelings of desolation, loss and guilt. Jesus had been the center of their lives and they had left all things behind to follow him. For three years, they lived with Jesus, heard him preach, witnessed his miracles, and saw him attract a large and passionate following. They had hoped that he was the long-awaited messiah who would restore to Israel the glory days of King David. All this came crashing down with Judas’ betrayal, their desertion of Jesus at his arrest, Peter’s denials, the trials, the condemnation, the crucifixion, the excruciating death and the hurried burial.
Then that morning, Mary Magdalene came with the amazing news that she had found the tomb empty. So Peter and John decided to see for themselves so they race to the tomb and find it just as she had said; all that was left of the Lord’s body were the burial wrappings. How their hearts must have leapt – could it be true? Could Jesus have truly risen from the dead as he said he would?
Christ himself would confirm the truth that evening when he appeared to them in the upper room and breathed on them the Holy Spirit. At that moment, they were reborn as children of God. Then they knew that they were forgiven their cowardice, their weakness, their doubt. Their hopes and dreams in regard to Jesus had been fulfilled beyond their wildest imaginings. He was not the political savior they thought they wanted. No, he was the savior they really needed; one who is the victor over death and sin. With his resurrection, Jesus burst the limits that these ancient foes had imposed on humanity and bestowed the gift of divine life on his people. When the apostles went forth and proclaimed this Good News of the Resurrection, the power of Easter began to take hold in other people’s lives as well, as hatred was turned to love, despair to hope, sorrow to joy, conflict to peace. The first Easter began to work miracles in people’s lives, and the miracles haven’t stopped in 2,000 years.
As we gather for Mass on this Easter of 2018 – and carry our own share of grief, fear, doubts and guilt – we hear the same good news proclaimed to us in the liturgy: “He is not dead. He is risen.” Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on us in our baptism and made us his brothers and sisters, sharing with us his victory over sin, fear and even death itself. The power of Easter invites us to open ourselves once again to the Spirit of the Risen Lord and feel his grace, healing, love and peace in our own hearts and lives.
As we leave Easter Mass, we must go forward, like Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, to share the Good News of the Resurrection to all whom we encounter, beginning in our homes. More than ever, our society, which is so torn by violence, hatred, despair and error, needs to be touched with the joy, hope, forgiveness and truth we have experienced in the Risen Christ. We are to proclaim that Jesus is alive and in our midst, and that he has the power to work miracles in our lives if we open our hearts to him. When we cooperate with the grace Christ won for us by his death and resurrection, which comes to us through his Church by striving to live our faith and follow his commandments, then nothing can rob us of the joy we celebrate on Easter.
Easter is the Christian feast – the essence of all we are and all we believe as the Church. This is the faith into which we were baptized, this is the faith we profess as we renew our Baptismal Promises, and this is the faith we are to carry into the world as missionary disciples.
Each day, may we boldly proclaim in word and deed: JESUS IS RISEN! HE IS TRULY RISEN! ALLELUIA!