4-21-2019 Easter Sunday
Apr 22, 2019
Easter I / C / 2019
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
A welcome to all, and a Happy Easter! Christ is risen. He is risen, Indeed! We put behind us the 40 days of Lent, the sadness of Holy Week, the darkness of the tomb—and we rise with Jesus Christ, to new life.
The Resurrection of Jesus is a great mystery; but this morning, I want to simplify things by highlighting just three lessons that flow from the Resurrection, the fact that Jesus rose from the dead—the central teaching of the Christian faith.
And the first one is this: 1) If Jesus has truly risen from the dead, then this world is not IT. This world is not all there is. There is something more.
All of us come to know the natural world, the world that is all around us. And scientists keep discovering new wonders in this world—like the picture of the "black hole" just a few weeks ago. But there is one irrefutable fact about this world: everything will die. Every organism, every mountain, ocean, planet, galaxies. Things come and go.
But what if this is not the case? What if death didn’t have the last word? What if, through God’s power, a new heaven and a new earth were being formed? What if this life was just a kind of "gestation period" awaiting something newer, bigger, eternal? The Resurrection of Jesus shows us that God is up to something greater than we could have ever imagined. And with St. Paul, we say, "Where, O Death, is your victory. Where, O Death, is your sting?" (1 Cor 15:55).
The second lesson 2) is this: Tyrants, beware! Your day is gone.
Like Caesar at the time of Jesus, tyrants of every age use power, and symbols of power—like the cross and crucifixion—to subdue and terrorize people. The threat of violence is a
powerful tool—this is how tyrants work. But the Resurrection says, "Beware, tyrants"! Jesus defied the cross and rose to life—the tyrant’s days are over.
The cross is now an inspiration for those who fight tyranny and oppression. As Christ conquered death, so will Christianity—those many saints and martyrs who gave their lives in the cause of peace, justice, and the dignity of all people. Think of St. John Paul preaching in Poland. Think of St. Oscar Romero in El Salvador. And so many others. Tyrants think they have the last word. They don’t. Light will overcome the darkness.
And the third lesson 3) is this: The path of salvation is open to all—even the worst of sinners.
St. Paul says in Philippians that Jesus, "though he was in the form of God . . . emptied himself and took the form of a slave, accepting even death, death on a cross." In other words, Jesus descended to the very pit of humanity—into our dysfunction and sin, and he nails it to the cross. And why? So that he might bring forgiveness to all.
We try to run from God, but God outruns us—the "hound of heaven." St. Paul says that when Jesus is "lifted up," he will draw all people to himself (Jn 12:32)—all of us sinners, until God is all, in all (1 Cor 15:28). Life. Life with God forever.
We celebrate today the Resurrection of Jesus—life to us, life to the world. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!