Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
John 20:1-9 or Matthew 28:1-10 or Luke 24:13-35
Our responsorial psalm sings: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” Easter is a time that invites rejoicing, gladness, and celebration, even when our life events might not feel so joyful, happy, or worth celebrating. But isn’t that what the Resurrection of the Lord is all about? From death, God raised Jesus to new life. From arrest, false accusation, and crucifixion, God brought about freedom, truth, and an empty tomb. From sin and darkness, God made possible reconciliation and light. We celebrate a paradox today, but the paradox reveals the mystery that God does not give evil the last word. God’s unconditional, merciful love wins the day, and the dark nights of our lives. Offered to us all, we are asked to respond by clearing out the old yeast of malice, wickedness, sin, and darkness, to let God bake us into the bread of kindness, goodness, forgiveness, and light. This is the day to rejoice and be glad. This is a day for hope.
The day before I wrote this reflection, our Ohio Dominican University Campus in Columbus, Ohio, experienced winds blowing, ice pellets falling, and winter seemed to be hanging on for dear life. Today? The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The temperature is in the upper 50s. Flowers are blooming. Spring is finally in the air and hope can be seen on the faces of students and staff alike. New life! I broke my humerus three weeks ago and learned this week that I have a tear in my rotator cuff. Surgery was looming large until my MRI indicated that the tear is small, the fracture is healing. I’m in less pain. New life! This week saw chemical attacks in Syria and US missile attacks on Syria. Some commentators call it the right response. Others wonder whether violence can end violence. The Syrian bishops have spoken strongly, stating their bewilderment that action was taken before investigations of the chemical attack earlier in the week were complete. No matter where one stands with regard to the use of force and US involvement in Syria, Church leaders ask us to look at the role violence plays in human life with fresh eyes. Remember last Sunday’s Passion account. Jesus tells the one who pulled out his sword to defend Jesus: “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt 26:52). We are being called to new life in diplomatic relations!
On this Easter Sunday we hear: Peter recount the importance of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in our first reading; Paul’s call to seek what is above through Christ, in whom baptism has hidden our life so people see Christ when they see us (Col 3:1-4); and Paul’s call to clear out the old yeast of wickedness and malice and become the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:8). We learn that the tomb is empty through the witness of Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the beloved disciple. The celebration of Easter calls us to witness our faith in the Resurrection as strongly and clearly as they did. Like Mary Magdalene, we are to go and proclaim what we have seen and heard: “The tomb is empty! The Lord is not there!” “The Resurrection makes a difference in our lives!” We will reflect on that difference over the next fifty days of the Easter season.
This day invites us to enter our inner tombs and discover where the risen Christ invites us to newness of life by facing whatever is death-dealing for us. They would not have seen the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection if Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the disciple whom Jesus loved had not entered the tomb that held Jesus’ body. We need to clear out whatever is not of God within the bread of our lives to let God bake us into bread that feeds our world with the hope of the Resurrection, often known in ways that are paradoxical and contrary to the wisdom of the world. Then, like Peter, we can proclaim boldly how our experience of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness of sins and fullness of life!
We are up to the task. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis offers these words of hope: “The Spirit of God has filled the universe with possibilities and therefore, from the very heart of things, something new can always emerge.” From the very heart of our own realities, personally and globally, something new can always emerge. The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to look for that something new, give witness to it once we find it, and become a word of hope to our sisters and brothers still seeking newness, light, and life.
In his Treatise on the Love of God, St. Francis de Sales wrote: “The death and passion of Our Lord is the sweetest and the most compelling motive that can animate our hearts in this mortal life… The children of the cross glory in this, their wondrous paradox which many do not understand: out of death, which devours all things, has come the food of our consolation. Out of death, strong above all things, has issued the all-sweet honey of our love” (Book 12, chapter 13). Let the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord animate your heart this Easter Day. Where you experience new life, thank God and witness the power of God’s life within you. Where you experience suffering, darkness, or difficulty, enter that paradox to find freedom, light, and hope. Then you’ll sing with sincerity and truth that: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” Happy Easter!
Rev. Paul H. Colloton, OSFS
O God, who on this day,
through your Only Begotten Son
have conquered death
and unlocked for us the path to eternity,
grant, we pray, that we who keep
the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection
may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit,
rise up in the light of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
—Collect, Easter Sunday of the Resurrection. Excerpt from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved.