Happy Easter! Felices Pascuas! Joyeuses Paques! Buona Pasqua! Frohe Ostern! Jesus Christ lives. And because Christ lives forever, we also live forever. That is the Easter message.
You may have heard about the minister, priest and rabbi who were kibitzing about death and dying. One of them asked: "When people gather to mourn your death, what would you like them to say?” The minister said: "I would like them to say I was a good family man, a deeply spiritual and caring pastor." The priest replied: "I would like the parishioners to say that I was a good preacher, a prayerful celebrant and a compassionate counselor." The rabbi paused and then said: "I'd like them to say, "Look, he's moving!"
Seriously, here’s a true story about a man’s reaction to his own obituary. A newspaper mistakenly ran his obituary instead of his dead brother's, and what he read shocked him: the newspaper reported the passing of a “great industrialist” who amassed a fortune from manufacturing weapons of huge destruction in those days--dynamite. His reputation as a heartless employer and ruthless businessman was also chronicled.
The man was stunned. This was not how he wanted to be remembered. From that moment on, he devoted himself to philanthropy, justice and peace. Today, he is remembered as the founder of the Nobel Prizes. Alfred Nobel said, “Everyone ought to have the chance to correct his or her epitaph in midstream and write a new one.”
And so today, in light of Easter, we might want to ask: how do we want to be remembered? As someone who made a difference for the better in the lives of some people? The choice is ours.
The word “Easter” comes from “Eastre,” the name of a Saxon goddess of the dawn or spring. Easter symbolizes life.
A popular symbol is the Easter egg. And just as the chick breaks out of the egg at birth, so too we believe that, in the mystery of death, we will break out of this earthly “skin” of ours, so to speak, into a new life. Why do we believe this? Because Jesus, once crucified and dead, is alive. His resurrection is the pledge of our own. The living Christ anticipates what we will become. In the meantime, we have to to live a life worthy of our baptismal calling as sons and daughters of God our Father.
Easter is about the dawn, daybreak, beginning again. Jesus' resurrection is a new day for all of us. Every morning we have another chance. Perhaps when we went to bed the night before, we carried “baggage” from the day just ending: things undone or put off, bad things said and done, good things unsaid and not done. In the morning, all is possibility, all is opportunity. We begin again.
Who among us is content with who we are? Who does not want to be more loving, more generous, more compassionate, more helpful? Who wouldn't want the courage to act upon our convictions as opposed to our fears. Who among us doesn't know of a heart to heal, a broken relationship to mend, a lost soul to find?
This Easter, God wakes us up again. Let this be the day to start again, to repair the broken, to rediscover God's extraordinary grace transforming our ordinary lives into the likeness of God.
In the word of God today, Peter proclaims the kerygma, the good news. Peter speaks about all that God has done for us through Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus was baptized by John, anointed with the Spirit, and went about the countryside of Judea and Galilee working signs and wonders, proclaiming that the kingdom of God was beginning to break into our lives. Eventually Jesus was crucified but then burst forth out of the tomb and was lifted up to his heavenly Father so that He could draw all of us to himself into a new, transfigured heavenly life.
Yes, Jesus is alive and because He lives, we also live. He is indeed, Peter shouts, a God of mercy and forgiveness. And that’s why Pope Francis emphasizes that the Church is a field hospital, here to heal wounds.
Paul in his letter to the Christian community in Colossae, Turkey challenges us to seek God in our everyday lives so that we might be with Him in glory at the end time.
In the Gospel according to John, we hear the story of the resurrection of Jesus. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb to find it empty; she summons Peter and John. The disciples discover that Jesus is not among the dead. He is Risen; He is alive. He has passed through the mystery of death into a new, transfigured heavenly reality.
This heavenly reality is ours as well. That is the Easter message!
The risen Jesus was not a spirit or ghost; nor was he simply resuscitated; or the disciples would have recognized him immediately.
Jesus said: I live and because I live, we also live. How is that? Born in the flesh, we are reborn in the spirit. In the rite of baptism, the Spirit of God is poured out upon us, and a new life is ours. The triune God lives within us and we live within the triune God.
As we grow in faith, the bishop anoints our forehead with oil in the sign of the cross—and in that gesture God pours out more fully the gifts of the Spirit so that we might show forth the fruits of the Spirit in our daily lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In this Eucharist, the living Christ truly presences himself to us sacramentally and mystically in the signs of bread and wine and becomes one with us in communion so we can continue his saving ministry through our hands and feet and voices and eyes. And if we should stumble on our journey, the Living Christ lifts us up in the Rite of Penance where we celebrate God’s mercy.
Yes, through sacramental encounters with God, we experience the living Christ. In the exchange of wedding promises God strengthens the love between husband and wife. In the anointing of the sick, God heals our wounds. All the sacraments are indeed signs of God’s care for us as we journey to our heavenly dwelling place.
Eternal life in relationship with God and one another: that is our ultimate purpose. In the mystery of our own dying, we believe we will make an evolutionary leap into a new reality, as Jesus already has.
Ours is indeed a faith in a fresh start. Easter is about getting our priorities straight. First things first. Easter is about asking: How can we be more loving, more generous, more compassionate, more helpful? Easter is about finding a heart to heal, a relationship to mend, a lost soul to find.
It’s a new dawn, a new day, a fresh start.