TOWARD AN EASTER DAY HOMILY
John, the Apostle and Gospel writer, entered the empty tomb. He saw the burial cloths arranged in an unusual and unexpected way. He saw and believed. Up to this time the disciples had not realized that according to the Scriptures the Christ would rise from the dead.
Life does not consist of just one Easter celebration but many. One Easter observance does not make or break us. This one, though, not only will be remembered but I believe cherished for the special blessings of God this year.
The Lord has shaken us a bit and forced us to pay attention to what he is doing this year and how his word has opened up to us leading us to a greater faith. The word of God comes to us in several forms. It is not only the sacred scriptures but in the prayers and sacred texts of the liturgy, the homilies, and in the events impinging on our lives, such as this pandemic. We really have spent a lifetime coming to understand better what God is saying through the scripture writers and what he is saying through liturgical practice and his inspired authors and teachers. Sometimes customs that have grown up, e.g. Easter eggs, have taken over and caused us to give more attention to them than they deserve. This has hidden the greater and essential meaning of the Easter Mystery. This year some of the less important things have been taken away from us, leaving us to contemplate the essential realities of faith, e.g. merciful covenant love behind the Father’s raising his Son from the dead.
So we continue our life’s journey and education in the faith testimony of those who have gone before us.
Today I want to turn your attention to a major teaching from the scriptures of Easter Mass. It comes from Peter’s “homily” at the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius.
To him [Jesus of Nazareth raised from the dead] all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.
Together with this we place the words of John in the Gospel at seeing the burial cloths and empty tomb:
And he [John] saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he [Jesus] had to rise from the dead.
Peter points the fact that Easter for believers means that God has been merciful and taken away our sins. Secondly, Peter says this was part of the Old Testament tradition. John tells us that he and the other followers of Jesus did not realize until after the resurrection that the raising of Jesus from the dead was the Father’s way of removing the obstacles of sin within believers. So double result of the Easter celebrations: understanding better that God has been merciful to us.
Much more could be said along this line and you must continue to meditate on this. So can you say that you recognize that this year God has been merciful and forgiving to us and made us aware of it through the pandemic and the quarantine. God has made us realize that we have neglected others, e.g. family members, and moved us through his grace to do something about it by reaching out to them with our assistance and more frequent contacts. That is forgiveness coming from God. He has changed our lives. For this we give him thanks. Something similar might be said with regard to our study and praying of the scriptures. Through his merciful love we spend more time on his written word. For this we give him praise, and so on. Christ’s resurrection has brought us pardon for our sins as Peter said. We have grown in our knowledge of what the prophets of old have taught about the merciful God who sent us the Messiah to complete his saving plan.
A HAPPY AND BLESSED EASTER!