With all that is going on in our nation and in our world, we are sorely in need of good news to lift us up. Today we celebrate the greatest good news that any human being could ever hope for: Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and invites us to share His life with us so we can find hope, peace, and direction in our lives today and forever. What is so easy to gloss over is how powerful Jesus’ love is. He was crucified because the religious leaders of his time incited the people to demand His execution. As that whole scene played out we see how He was let down by His closest friends and confidants. Among the apostles Judas betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver, Peter denied he knew Him three times, and nine of the ten other apostles ran away in fear. Only St. John stayed with Him and stood at the foot of the cross with Mary His mother as He died. How could such a tragic, horrible, and dismal scene ever bring hope.
It was not what happened to Jesus, but who Jesus is that is totally amazing. What we celebrate today, Easter Sunday, is that not only did Jesus rise from the dead, He came back to the people He loved, those who denied and abandoned Him. A week and a half ago I prayed the Stations of the Cross just thinking about this line from 1 Corinthians 13:6-8: “Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” How can we not be overwhelmed by such a powerful love? As much as Jesus was rejected 2,000 years ago and is rejected every time we sin, He refuses to stop opening His Sacred Heart with unconditional, healing, life-giving love. No matter what we have done, how often we have ignored Him, or neglected to offer Him our prayers of faith, hope, and love, He always welcomes us into His presence, listens intently and lovingly to our prayers, and rejoices that we accept His unconditional love. Every time we come to a church building we are welcomed by Him. Every time we turn to Him in prayer, He opens His ears and heart to our words and even more to our hopeful, faithful presence.
Yes the Risen Christ is our hope with His open mind, ears, and heart to our words and presence. What makes our Easter complete is welcoming Jesus into our minds and hearts as He welcomes us into His mind and heart. Is Easter Mass just one more thing to do on Easter Sunday or is it the cause of our joy, strengthening our bond of love with Him and one another? For the next 50 days we will celebrate the Easter Season, celebrate that Jesus has risen from the dead. Most importantly we will celebrate Him and His Resurrection. What distractions and concerns do we have to rise above to enter into the joy of Easter. Easter joy is not a fleeting joy, but a celebration of Jesus power over sin and death for us personally as individuals and communally as His family, the Church, the Body of Christ in our midst. The more we become one with Him and His heart and mind, the more joy we experience, the more hope we have, and the more determined we are to love as He lives and loves in us. In Jesus we have the Way to rise above all that drains life out of us in the tragic events that threaten and destroy life in our world.
Alleluia! Alleluia! These are not fairy tale, escape reality words, but words of hope for hearts that are filled with the Easter joy and presence of Jesus Christ. I close with the beautiful, joyful, hopeful prayer from the Breastplate of St. Patrick.
"As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today. Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.