Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord
This weekend the Church celebrates the greatest of its feasts, the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord, or Easter. It is the greatest of feasts because it rejoices in the fulfillment of human salvation, completed when the Lord Jesus rose from death to new earthly life after having been crucified.
On Holy Saturday, after dusk, the Church presents its splendid liturgy of the Easter Vigil. Quite vividly in the Vigil’s readings, the Church recalls the long history of God’s unfailing love for us.
For Easter itself, the first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. Speaking on behalf of all the Apostles, Peter capsulizes the life and mission of Jesus. More than a biography, it is a testament of God’s love for humankind, given in Jesus and in His sacrifice. It is an invitation to people to follow the Lord, a reassurance that God is with us; still alive and well in Jesus, the risen.
For the second reading, the Church offers a passage from the Letter to the Colossians. This reading tells us, as it told its first audience, that we have been raised with Christ. We usually associate resurrection with death, because resurrection is re-vivification after physical death. In the Pauline writings, resurrection also meant an event on earth while physical life is present. It is a resurrection over sin, voluntarily chosen by each disciple.
St. John’s Gospel supplies the last reading. It is the familiar story of Mary Magdalene’s early morning visit to the tomb where Jesus had been buried after being crucified. She found the tomb empty. Immediately, she hurried to Peter and the other disciples to give them the news.
Peter and the others took her word. At once, they went to the tomb and saw for themselves that it was empty. “The disciple whom Jesus loved,” long thought to be John, saw the empty tomb. Strong in faith, he knew that Jesus had risen.
The readings for this feast, as well as the feast of Easter itself, are overpowering in the richness and depth and breadth of their message. Jesus is the Savior! He lives forever!
Belief in the resurrection and trust in the everlastingly living Jesus have uplifted, guided and inspired human hearts for 20 centuries. Awareness of, and commitment to, the Lord have brightened lives regardless of the darkness and cold surrounding them.
An old legend says the edge of the garden that contained the tomb of Jesus were large, tall plants, considered to be eyesores, weeds. They were ugly. Blossoms rose at the top of each stalk, but it was dingy and colorless.
These humble, detested plants witnessed the Resurrection. The blinding, brilliant, divine light of the Lord’s victory over death bathed them. For all time thereafter, their blossoms are wonderfully yellow, transformed by the light of Christ, all the ugliness bleached from them.
The legend continues. Since that miraculous Easter morning, these plants, their blossoms ablaze with the golden reflection of the Lord’s power, follow the light from dawn to dusk. It is the bright noonday sun? Or is it Jesus, returning in glory? Is Jesus near? The plant was the sunflower.
After Lent, purified and recommitted, Easter is our moment to absorb the light of the risen Lord. Do we allow it to change us as it changed the sunflower? Do we intently search for the Lord, seeing the mercy of Jesus in every sunbeam of grace and goodness that falls upon us?
Peter and the Apostles eventually gave their very lives for Christ, radiant in their faith.
We cannot predict or control everything. The ultimate fact is that we need Jesus, and Jesus is with us. He lives.
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