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04/16/17 Easter Sunday - Fr. Reggie

On the first day of the week, the third day of his Passion, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Today is his day.

Many great historical figures have led exemplary lives, taught wise doctrines, and even died for the truth. But only one has risen again. 

Among the vast array of humanity's greatest heroes, only about Jesus Christ can we say: "He rose again on the third day, in fulfillment of the scriptures."  Only in Christ's resurrection do goodness and power finally unite. The good guy wins! Only in Christ's resurrection does love prove that it is stronger than death. In Christ and in his resurrection, a new - a wildly new - hope dawns for all mankind, the hope that if we stay united to him through faith and grace, we will rise with him, rise from our very tombs, and live with him forever in the never-ending adventure of heaven.

No one else offers such a hope, because no one else has risen from the dead to be able to offer it - only the Lord.

The Resurrection is the definitive watershed in the history of religions; it makes Christianity absolutely unique. In the Resurrection, reality becomes more wonderful than myth

Only the reality of the Resurrection can explain the reality of the history of the Church: A few weak, non-influential, and uneducated fishermen from Galilee, frightened out of their wits when Jesus was arrested and executed, suddenly become world travelers, phenomenally successful preachers, and valiant martyrs. And the Church they spread continues to spread after they die, holding fast to the exact same doctrine they preached, century after century, in nation after nation. Only the abiding presence of the Lord can explain this, and only the resurrection explains the abiding presence of the Lord.

This is what makes us, as Christians, different.

This is our hope.  If Christ had not risen from the dead, what good would his suffering have meant? What good would his love, symbolized by his suffering, have been if evil and death had been able to extinguish it? Only the bright light of the Resurrection gives meaning to the blood-stained darkness of the cross. We can only endure our Good Fridays because we know that Easter Sunday is right around the corner.

The great Renaissance artist, Michelangelo, expressed this in a small, little known marble sculpture of the resurrected Christ that can be seen today in Rome in the church of Santa Maria sopra [SOH-prah] Minerva [Mih-NAIR-vuh]. The figure of Christ in this sculpture is glorious. He stands firm, but not stiff. He is young, muscular, confident, and energetic - like a boxer before a fight, or a soldier coming home from a victorious battle. The risen Lord stands alone. The only other figure in the sculpture is his cross. He holds it in his left arm. It is small, almost puny. It is much too small to have been used to crucify him. It's just a flimsy little wooden cross; he holds it as easily as we would hold a bouquet of flowers.

And that's the whole point of this work of art. The life-giving power of the Risen Lord has overwhelmed the deathly power of the cross. That is what Easter Sunday does for us. That is what the Resurrection does for us. It makes the light of hope shine so brightly in our lives that it shrinks our crosses down to size.

We can bear them now, and with joy, because we know that they are leading us towards the glorious victory of the Resurrection.

The Resurrection is our hope.

Today we should relish this joy of Easter, thanking God for letting us share in this victory, for giving us this hope.

But let's not stop there. Let's not just enjoy Easter, let's let it change our lives. Christ's resurrection is not just a nice idea; it is the power of eternal life at work in us. Why not do something for the eight weeks of the Easter season to plug into that power?

Almost every one of us made an effort to live Lent in a special way. Most likely we gave something up for Lent. That was a practical way to give the special graces that God sends during Lent some room to work in our souls. So, if we gave something up as a way to help us live the penitential season of Lent, why not take something up as a way to help us live the joyful season of Easter?

In the Second Reading, St Paul encouraged us to "think of what is above, not of what is on earth."

Why don't we make an Easter resolution that will help us do that, that will help us keep in mind the eternal life in Christ that is waiting for us if we stay faithful to him?

It could be something simple: like inviting a friend or family member who has forgotten about Christ's victory to come to Mass on Sundays and then inviting them over for brunch or lunch like watching a classic movie together as a family each Sunday between now and Pentecost - a joyful, uplifting movie; like having a special outing or get-together with friends on Fridays; like taking some time each evening to re-read some of your favorite books, the ones that stir up joy in your soul; or joining us in May as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions of our Lady.

If we ask the Holy Spirit to give us some ideas, he won't be stingy. He just needs us to decide to let Easter make a difference in our lives, the way it should.

Our souls need that as much as they needed the time of penance and contrition that we lived during Lent. If we walk with Mother Mary, even along the walk to Calvary we will see and be the true light - otherwise we'll never be strong enough to carry our crosses, and they will overwhelm us, instead of inspiring us.

The Church is a wise mother in giving us six weeks of Lent and eight weeks of Easter. 

Today, as we receive the risen Lord in the Eucharist, let's promise him that we will find a way to benefit from that wisdom.



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