Easter Sunday – 20 April 2014
Alexander, Kyiv, Ukraine
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Haec dies quam fecit Dominus; exultemus et laetemur in ea.
Col. 3 :1-4 1 Cor. 5 :6b-8
Jn. 20 :1-9
Is our everyday where it ought to be such that we know how to celebrate the feast? Easter is here! Alleluia! I wish each and everyone here present and, please, carry the message to all at home: Christ is Risen! Yes, He is truly Risen!
Is our everyday where it ought to be such that we know how to celebrate the feast? When we think about today’s Gospel account of the panic which descended upon the women who went early in the morning to the tomb of Jesus, on the first day of the week, and found the stone rolled away and His Body gone, the panic of Simon Peter and of the disciple Jesus loved, running to the tomb, what are we to say? We can say that Easter each year does in a sense catch us by surprise as well.
Jesus had prophesied His sorrowful passion, His death upon the Cross and His glorious Resurrection, but confronted with the stone removed from the tomb, the disciples were confounded. All our lives long, we have been taught in these matters of faith as well, yet how can we say that Easter morning finds us better prepared than they were: “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” Because in our case it is not the first time, we need to phrase the thing a bit differently, that is, this challenge to us for our lack of faith: Is our everyday where it ought to be such that we know how to celebrate the feast?
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, by the grace he received on Pentecost, Peter lays it all out for the crowds: “You know what has happened… the baptism, the anointing with power to heal and drive out devils, …that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” Did Easter catch you by surprise? Why were you not prepared? What did or did not change in your life this Lent?
Not to worry though! The greatest thing about Easter joy is that we don’t, we should not regret if it does take us by surprise. The mystery is indeed too great and should overwhelm us, no matter how much penance we have done, no matter how much we have done to reform our lives.
At least since last November, through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, right up through these high, holy days to Easter today, we here in Ukraine, from one vantage point or another, have been living life close up and intense, we are witnesses to violence, to cruel betrayal, and on the other hand, to great piety and faith, to unflagging courage and dedication, to great service and deep respect for the human person. Is our everyday where it ought to be such that we know how to celebrate the feast? For lots of Ukrainians, both by birth and by adoption, I would say undoubtedly yes, simply by virtue of your living this period of trial, which sadly does not seem to know how to respect the feast.
The Feast of Easter is greater than us and than our experience. The Scriptures teach us that very truth, by recounting the bewildered panic of those who came to Christ’s now empty tomb early of that Sunday, that first Easter Sunday morning. The mystery, the glory of the Resurrection of the Son of Man is beyond our everyday, way beyond the best and worst which life has to offer us.
Despite two thousand years of celebrating Jesus’ victory over sin and death, practically everywhere on earth, today’s feast still comes as a surprise even to many who at least nominally consider themselves Catholic or Christian. Besides coming to us as a surprise, I wish the feast would provoke the same panic as it did in the disciples on that first Easter Sunday early in the morning. I truly wish we could bring people beyond ignorance and indifference to a genuine encounter with Christ, the Lord of Life. Death today is still too easily embraced. Our lives should be a constant celebration of life restored, of mankind’s reconciliation with God now and for all eternity.
Is our everyday where it ought to be such that we know how to celebrate the feast? Easter is here! Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Yes, He is truly Risen!