EASTER: The Solemnity of The resurrection of the Lord: HAPPINESS IN HOPE!
Easter is the greatest and most important Solemn Feast in the Church. The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian Faith. The Resurrected Christ is the center and Hope of the Christian Life. Easter gives us a message of Hope and New Life. The resurrection of Jesus gives us the assurance that our lives are not going to end in this world and the hope of our own resurrection. When all my expectations are as dark as night, I feel only suffering and the blame of others as well as the burden of other crosses I bear, the Resurrected Christ gives me hope that the sun will rise tomorrow. Let us find the Risen Lord and experience Him and invite Him to be a part of our lives. This is the joy and beauty of the Christian Life. Our hope is in the belief that Risen Lord will help us endure the challenges and struggles which we are facing during this pandemic. The restrictions on assembling prevent us from celebrating Easter in a church. But as ‘The Church’, the people of God, we will proclaim Easter Joy for, “We are Easter people and Alleluia is our Song.” No Pandemic can destroy our Faith and Easter celebration!
In today’s Gospel reading we heard that, after the death of their Lord and master, the disciples were living through a crisis. Their hopes were shattered; their plans and their many expectations were left unfulfilled. They faced a real emptiness and darkness was all around them. Fear, anxiety, frustration, and a sense of hopelessness ruled their hearts. But in the midst of hopelessness and fear, they heard this astonishing and surprising news: “He is not here but He has Risen.”
The resurrection of Jesus is proof that truth cannot be hidden, love cannot be buried, and faith and hope will not be fruitless. The enemies of Jesus believed that they had put an end to Him, and therefore His teachings and His values had been buried forever. But they were mistaken; the tomb could not hold the Lord of the universe, evil could not overpower Him, and sin could not destroy His mission. Jesus gained victory over evil.
Easter gives us the joyful the message that we are a “Resurrection People.” This means that we are not supposed to be buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits, dangerous addiction, discouragement or doubts. Instead, we are expected to live a Joyful and Peaceful life and to constantly experience the living presence of our Resurrected Christ in all the events of our lives and even in the middle of our sufferings, pains, and the day-to-day struggles of our lives, especially during this time of crisis.
In the Gospel reading, we heard that Mary Magdalene visited the tomb of Jesus. Mary Magdalene saw the stone rolled back and went running to the disciples. She said: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put Him.” The “other disciple,” who ran to the empty tomb with Peter, entered into the tomb and believed. I believe that this “unnamed disciple” could be you or me. They saw the linen cloths lying on the ground and the empty tomb. Then the disciples went back home. Nevertheless, Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping; she “wanted to see Jesus” and “wanted to know where they had put Him.” This shows her great “desire” to see and experience Jesus personally. Jesus noticed her desire to see Him. Jesus appeared to her and said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb with faith and hope. Mary realized that the tomb is not the end of life and she was looking beyond the tomb where there will be a new life. She was not afraid of the empty tomb like the other disciples who went back home downcast after seeing the empty tomb.
Prayerfully we watched during the Palm Sunday liturgy in St Peters Basilica without the congregation and joined by a handful of priests and nuns along with a reduced choir, all in attendance were careful to keep a safe and necessary distance from one another; Pope Francis was carrying the Palms with pain and sadness at the same time with renewed hope. We witnessed that inside of the St Peters Basilica was “empty chairs”, like Mary Magdalene and the disciples experienced “the empty tomb.” Pope Francis said in his homily, “ Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crushed, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each of us; “Courage, open your hearts to my love. You will feel the consolation of God who sustains you.” Pope Francis called on believers during these holy days to “ reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need. May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good can do for others.” Pope Francis continued by saying, “ Look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people rather they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others.”
Let us find the grace to join our sufferings with Jesus and we can come to realize and experience the beauty of God’s love for us. We should realize that growth in holiness does not happen only when everything is going well with us and the times are calm and peaceful but we grow in holiness and God’s likeness when we are called to love in extraordinary ways, especially as we are being challenged during these days.
Even though Mary Magdalene failed to recognize Jesus at first — when Jesus called her by name — Mary knew Him and called Him “Master.” Mary then begins to cling passionately to Jesus, not wanting to let Him go, out of her love for Jesus. But she had to let go. And so, Mary ran back to the disciples proclaiming her personal experience: “I have seen the Lord.” A sinful woman is given this unique privilege of being “The first to proclaim the Risen Jesus.” Mary became the “Apostle to the apostles.” Let us proclaim with Mary’s believing and joyful heart, “Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!