for the Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus, Cycle C
April 8, 2007
"Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" "Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?" These were the plaintive questions which echoed in our hearts on Good Friday as we remembered the wounded body of Jesus, sealed away in that closed and guarded tomb. But there is yet another verse concluding that cherished spiritual - an all but forgotten question that it asks - one that is no longer a plaintive lament but rather a victory verse, lifting up our hearts in Easter Joy. "Were you there when the stone was rolled away?" "Were you there when the stone was rolled away?"
Our celebration this morning is our answer to that question. With Christians the world over, we stand beside the stone rolled back. With the apostles we bend to enter the empty tomb. We reach down to touch the discarded shroud, still bearing its indelible image and we tremble at the wondrous story that it tells. With St. John we affirm our faith: We Believe! He is Risen! Our Savior Lives!
"He Lives." On this day which the Lord has made, I invite you to pause and ponder those two short words. Savor their sweetness. Draw out their wealth of meaning. They contain the truth which distinguishes our faith from every other faith. We believe because He Lives. This is the translucent truth which sparkles and flashes through the whole of the New Testament. Whether it was St. Peter addressing the crowds on the first Pentecost or St. Paul writing to strengthen the faith of his Christian converts, or St. John, writing his wonderful gospel as his last witness to the Jesus he loved so well, always the heart of their message centers upon the one great fact which they had seen with their own eyes and heard with their ears and touched with their hands and knew to be true beyond shadow of doubt or possibility of mistake - the glorious, triumphant fact of the Risen Christ. They had seen Him dead, in the darkness and defeat of Calvary and they had seen Him Risen from the dead . He had promised that on the third day, He would break the chains of death and come back to them. And He had kept His promise. He had walked with them and talked with them - His voice familiar - His body transformed and glorified now - but the same body, still bearing the nail marks and the wounded side. Jesus Lives. This was the firm foundation on which their faith was built and ours as well. St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, could not have been more explicit: "If Christ is not raised from the dead, our preaching is empty of content and your faith is worthless and those who have fallen asleep in Christ are the deadest of the dead.... If, for this life only, we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all." But then, in an ecstacy of Easter Joy, the apostle cries out: "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." And a bit further on, he sounds this triumphant note: "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting. Thanks be to God Who has given us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ."
Today we come together to claim for ourselves that same apostolic faith - that same splendid hope. For us, as for our fellow Christians the world over and for believers from the beginning, the word: "Easter" is more than a name we give to this special day. It is the defining word, expressing who we are and in Whom and Why we believe. We are an Easter people, called by God to live in the blazing glory of the Resurrection, penetrating every aspect of our lives and giving meaning to every moment and most of all to our final moment. We believe because He Lives. This is the foundation truth, the firm support for every other wonderful truth of our Christian faith, making believable all that Our Lord has told us about Himself and about His Father Who is "Our Father" as well - and about Godís wonderful plans for us, in this life and in the next.
"The Blazing Glory of the Resurrection".. This is the radiance which shines forth in every liturgy we celebrate, not only on this Easter Sunday, but all through the year. Every day, everywhere, in every Mass, we are caught up into the mystery of Jesus, Dying and Rising. Our Mass this morning is our joyful profession of faith that Jesus Lives. In the most solemn moment of Our Mass, we are invited to proclaim our faith and with one voice we join in our Easter answer:
"Christ has Died". "Christ is Risen" "Christ will Come again".
We Believe He Lives. And Because
There may still be Sorrow - but never Hopelessness.
There may still be Pain - but never Despair.
There may still be Loneliness - but we are Not Alone.
There may still be Darkness - but in our every darkness,
The Light Still Shines!
It is the Light of Life!
It is The Radiance of the Risen Christ!