Dying you destroyed our death. Rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in Glory.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Allelulia!
Happy Easter! These are the two words that we will most likely greet each other with on this Easter Sunday as we attend the celebration of Mass and later on visit with our family and friends.
For each of us, these two words can have various meanings, but often are used to express the great joy and happiness, with gratitude that we have because Lent is finally over, and we are now able to get back to a normal routine that was part of our lives before Ash Wednesday. Like my own family members, I am sure that many of you today will continue to celebrate this Easter Sunday by hiding and searching for Easter eggs with your children, relatives and friends, while at the same time eating some Easter candies, and sharing together an Easter dinner.
How ever you plan to celebrate this Easter Sunday, it is my hope and prayer that you and your family, over the next 50 days of this Easter Season will continue to try and enter into a more profound awareness and understanding of what we are really conveying when we say happy Easter. It raises the question of how can we best enter into the meaning of the mystery of our faith, in the salvation that Christ won for us through His Life, Suffering, Death and Resurrection.
We are unable to appreciate the greatness of Jesus' resurrection unless we acknowledge the full reality of His death. Jesus died in the darkness of death. But He trusted enough in the Father to face death, and to wait for the resurrection. His faith was witnessed to by His disciples, and those who knew Him. Our Easter faith reminds us that God the Father raised Jesus up from the dead, so that we too one day might be raised from the dead and share in everlasting life with Him in heaven. The Scriptures and the early Church seldom said, 'Jesus rose from the dead.' But what they do say is that, 'God raised Jesus from the dead.' Jesus, Himself, had to make that leap of faith which we will one day be called upon to make at the end of our life here on earth.
Jesus entered the kingdom of death, and emerged victorious in the light of the Resurrection. He has won His victory-He has conquered sin and death. But that victory has to work its way through and become a reality in us, His disciples. His victory was won in our nature. If the battle had not been fought and won in our nature, we would be incapable of gaining from His victory, but would still be held captive under the power of sin and death.
And while we know that one day, we too will die, and bear the responsibility of our own personal sins, it is our Easter faith that assures us that through Christ's death, He has conquered sin and death forever. Sometimes it is only when we remember how we have shared in the journey of a relative or friend who has suffered with a debilitating illness and eventually died that the words, happy Easter can take on a newer and more profound meaning, which can often lead us to a greater joy and appreciation of what Jesus Christ did for each of us through the experience of Easter.
Having such an experience, walking with a loved one in those times, can strengthen our faith, renew our hope and unite us in the love of Christ Jesus who says in the Scriptures, "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."
In the Creed that we will pray today after the homily, will we hear the reason for our happiness. In the lighted Easter candle, through which we will light our own candles, we see a visible reminder of the light of Christ which comes to dispel the sin and death in our own lives. In the Eucharist, we will receive the living presence of Jesus Christ, who gives us life and prepares us for everlasting life. So, as you go about your day with your family and friends in celebrating this great Feast of our Redemption, make sure to take a few moments to give thanks to God the Father for raising up His Son Jesus Christ from the dead, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May each of you have a most Happy and Blessed Easter!
Go in peace. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Most Reverend Martin Holley, D.D.
Bishop of Memphis in Tennessee