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04/12/20 - Easter Sunday - Fr.Reggie

We were created for joy. You never hear someone say, “You know, this whole joy thing is not for me. I wish I had a little bit more misery in my life.”

We are created for joy, but we come to realize that it’s not something we can just buy at the local Wal-Mart.  Think about the most joyful moments of your life. Isn’t it true that they were a surprise?

The gospel gives us an idea of the surprise of discovering the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene had been there at the foot of the Cross. She had seen Jesus die. Crucifixion was not a joke. It was such a horrible way to die that the Romans eventually outlawed it. So Mary Magdalene was not expecting an empty tomb. She knew that Jesus had really died.

So when she sees the empty tomb she doesn’t know what to make of it. So she runs and tells Peter and John. They both run to the tomb. Apparently John had been more faithful to his Insanity workouts than Peter, and he beat him to the tomb. He looks in, and then he waits for Peter. Peter was appointed the first Pope and so John wanted to let him go in first. Peter enters the tomb, and then John goes in.

What they saw surprised them. Or better said, what they didn’t see surprised them. The body of Jesus was gone. The burial clothing was there, but the body was gone. Actually the Greek says that the burial clothing was lying there in its folds. It seemed that the body of Jesus had just evaporated and left the clothes lying there as though there were still a body. But there was no body.

Imagine their surprise. What has happened here? And then the gospel says that John saw and believed. He believed that Jesus had risen from the dead!

The surprise must have overwhelmed him. But as he began to believe, he was filled with joy.

Joy is the best response to Easter. Who could have ever imagined that death could be conquered? That’s what Easter means. Your death and my death is not the end. Just as Jesus rose from the dead we will rise from the dead. Body and soul, we will live forever.

Suffering does not have the last word. Death does not have the last word. The love of God, given to us in Jesus Christ has the last word.

This is why the psalm today shouts out: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us REJOICE and be glad!” On Easter, we also are surprised by the presence of the Risen Jesus. And we too are filled with Joy.

When we realize the gift of Easter, joy is the best response. 

Paula Dryer tells the following story about one Easter Sunday. I couldn’t have been in a worse mood. I glared at myself in the full-length mirror in my bedroom. Black suit, sensible shoes, conservative necklace. Blah! I should have been in my Easter best. After all, it was Easter. But I had to work. There’d been a last-minute scheduling problem at the long-term addiction-treatment center where I work and I was stuck with the Easter Sunday shift. My husband and I had to ditch our plans. Usually I pray or focus on positive thoughts during my commute. Not today. I thought about our church service that morning. Sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows. The choir belting out alleluias. Bell-shaped white lilies overflowing the altar, perfuming the air. Families decked out in their new spring outfits packed into the pews. Everyone smiling. The gospel message–so full of joy! All I’d felt was resentment.

She describes how bitter she was all day, until after dinner one of the rehab patients came up to her. “Paula, I have something for you,” she said. I looked down. It was a little cross of intricately woven palm fronds. “I wanted to thank you for giving up your holiday to be with us,” she said. I struggled to maintain my calm, professional demeanor. Our patients wish they could be with their families too. But they don’t get to go home at the end of the day the way I do. Most of them won’t get to go home for months. The rest of the day I worked with a renewed spirit. Late that night I drove home. The roads were empty. The sky was clear and the moon bright. I knew I’d spent Easter Sunday exactly where God wanted me to be, where I was needed. I pulled into my driveway. The house lights were still on. John had waited up for me. “How was it today?” he asked, as he put his arms around me. “Joyful.”

When we realize the gift of Easter, joy is the best response. 

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. That means that above all it’s a gift from God. However God will never force joy on us: we have to help prepare the soil of our hearts.  

Here are 3 suggestions to help us do that. You could call it GPS.

  • G – Gratitude. I heard someone say that a grateful heart silences a complaining tongue. If we’re always griping, how will the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with joy? So if we want more joy in our lives, let’s start by being grateful. A simple way to do this is to write down one thing you’re grateful for each day. You’ll be amazed.
  • P – Prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of joy. Joy is the result of our relationship with Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the one who makes Christ present to us.
  • Sharing – If you’re not feeling very joyful, try to bring joy into someone else’s life and you’ll be astounded at what happens in your own heart. Call someone, smile at someone, do something kind. And joy flows from that.

So GPS – Gratitude, Prayer, Sharing. And now we’re about to receive the greatest source of joy, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. He died for us, he rose for us, and he wants to bring us the joy of his presence in the Eucharist. 

 

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