Homily for Easter Sunday – 2010
Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen, O.S.B.
St. Gregory’s Abbey: Shawnee, Oklahoma
My dear friends, today is a very special day in the hearts of many. It has been anticipated for weeks if not months by untold numbers of people. Some have disciplined their bodies and focused their minds in preparation for this day. On this day, people gather by the tens of thousands in designated places to share stories, to sing well-known songs, and to eat special traditional foods. It is a day marked by special fanfare and long-established rituals. It is a day of bright colors, special vesture, and well-orchestrated pageantry. For many, it is the day to mark a new beginning and a time to hope for a better future. This is… the opening day of the 2010 major league baseball season!
But of course, my brothers and sisters, we know that today is much more than that. Today is the day of that sees Christ rise from the dead! Today is the day of the New Creation! Today is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it, alleluia!
Indeed, my friends in Christ, what joy should be ours as we once again celebrate this day of days, this feast of feasts! We, along with not thousands or tens of thousands but with billions of others throughout the world have awaited this day for months, have prepared for it with increased physical discipline and spiritual exercises, have gathered in faith in every style of church or chapel imaginable to share stories of marvelous deeds, to sing familiar hymns, psalms and inspired songs, and to share in the most life-giving food possible: the Body and Blood of Christ.
We, along with Christians throughout the world, this year in both East and West, celebrate this day with special fanfare, long-established rituals, special vestments, and brilliant colors, that help us to understand and to experience that this day takes us beyond even what our beautiful earth in the fresh hues of springtime cannot fully express. All of these celebrations, rituals and this Eucharistic liturgy help us as people of faith to understand what St. Paul first wrote to the Colossians: “[we] have died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ [our] life appears, then [we] too will appear with him in glory.” Today is the day of new beginning, the day of joyful hope as we anticipate the glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Certainly, the message of Easter is not something we can fully grasp or comprehend in a single day. It is a mystery that surpasses the limitations of our senses and of the intelligence of our mind. Like the women who first came to the tomb early on the morning of that “first day of the week,” and like Peter and the Beloved Disciple who ran to the tomb without fully understanding the meaning of the phrase “to rise from the dead,” so we do not fully understand the meaning of Christ’s victory over sin and death.
But through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the joyful message of this Easter day is not beyond the grasp of our hearts and spirits. Each time we celebrate the mystery of Easter, and each time we take a step in living our baptismal identity in Jesus Christ, we come to a deeper awareness of the power of the Resurrection in our lives and in our world. The testimony of St. Peter in our first reading today becomes increasingly our own as we share this Eucharistic meal with the Risen Lord, and as we experience the healing power of the forgiveness of sins in the name of Risen One, Jesus Christ.
My brothers and sisters in our Risen Lord, we have been given the great gift of new life in Jesus Christ. The baptism life we share, however, is not a spectator’s sport like that of major league baseball. No, our life in Christ calls to a faith that is active and engaged. Life in Christ calls us to take the field and play our part in bringing others to the faith we celebrate today. We are now the witnesses of all that has taken place in Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and, indeed, throughout the world since that first Easter morning. Yes, we are the witnesses, chosen by God, to proclaim without fear in the joy of the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ is the Way, Jesus Christ is the Truth, Jesus Christ is the Resurrection, Jesus Christ is the Life of the World. Amen, Alleluia!