Easter Sunday 2021 ~. Bible Readings for Easter Mass: I: Acts 1034a -37-43; Responsorial: Psalm 118; II: Colossians3:1-4; Gospel: John 20:1-9
Easter Sunday is the greatest of the Christian holidays. It is a celebration of Jesus, Savior and Lord, rising from the dead. As the resurrection is celebrated it also is a time of joy for new life, of growth. Some critics complain that the Christians “stole” Easter from the Jews as it developed during Passover. Or, on an even broader scale, that it was taken from the pagan religions and many customs associated with the vernal equinox. In a very real sense… Yes! Joyfully Yes! The roots of both the Hebrew faith and pagan religions are a part of the tapestry of humanity that celebrates this holy, joyful feast. This historical, global scale is also what occurs in families and our personal journey with and to God. It isn’t a matter of theft. It is a reality that we grow from the faith, the practices we had and, hopefully, we grow unto the Truth who is Jesus. And this journey is not perfect or complete for any of us. None of us can claim to possess all the Truth or answers. That is only found in God. So Easter is a celebration that recognizes the journey of humanity and of all creation from our early beliefs and practices into the fullness of Truth found in the risen Savior and God, Jesus the Christ.
As the stone door of the tomb was rolled away Jesus stepped out into the glory of a new creation where sin and death are conquered. As Christ on earth welcomed and blessed Hebrews and Gentiles with the Gospel of conversion (change, growth, new life and direction) the Risen Jesus would both welcome and empower all who are seeking the Way of His Kingdom. The Risen Savior would seek those who were frightened, wounded, and struggling with doubts and lead them to grow in His mercy and forgiveness. Even Peter with his denials of his Lord was sought by God, who is forgiveness. And it is important to understand the Risen Lord, The Messiah, appeared first, not to the Apostles, not to the priests and leaders of the Hebrews. The great religious scholars sought not the tomb where he laid.
The first to experience and realize the miraculous joy of Easter were women who loved their Lord and came, hoping to complete the preparation of His Body for burial. They were, in the realities of that era, often seen as lesser humans than men. As evidenced by their burial task they were normally in the place and roles of servants. But they came in courageous love, however unsure their faith. And it was those hearts of love coming with their imperfect faith that Jesus chose to first reveal His risen Presence. It was the women who would first witness, to the Apostles and to the world Jesus had risen from the dead. It would be their message shared with Peter and John that would send the men racing to the tomb with tremulous disregard for their fears and doubts. And as they came and saw they knew in their hearts what had happened. Jesus was alive in the hope dawning in their hearts. It would be, from the empty tomb they would grow in the Truth, the grave was not where Jesus was meant to be. And neither were they.
Christ, victor over sin and death, conquerer of Satan, would visit His follower in their locked, fearful rooms and on their wanderings of sorrow and doubt. Jesus met His disciples where they were. He waited not for perfect faith, understanding or the fullest of pious love. He met them where they were… as he meets us. As we celebrate the holy joy of Christ risen we acclaim our Alleluias! That great word of faith and joy affirms: “Our God reigns!”
It is time we leave the tombs of our doubts and fears. It is time we place our faith in Christ Crucified and Risen from the Dead instead of placing our faith in our failings or our limited understanding of the sins and faults of others. Together we are invited by Christ to see, enter into His holy wounds, and realize anew our hope and healing, our holiness and joy is found, not in our practices or assumed perfections, but in His wounds of redeeming love.
And prayerfully may we understand it is not for us to judge and decide how God and His infinite graces, God’s boundless blessings are to be shared. We are all unworthy. We are all broken in sin. And it is for us all Jesus found His way to the cross and tomb. He knew it would be where He would find us. And it is from there He leads us. Sin, death, the devil are conquered. But some would say, why then is there so much suffering, hate, evil in the world? The Easter journey is the Way of the Cross. Evil, sin, death are conquered. And it is our calling, our privilege to, with and in Christ, manifest Christ’s victory into the world He leads us.
Jesus is Risen! Alleluia!