April 21, 2019: Easter Sunday C
“The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” (Matthew 4:16) These words of Prophet Isaiah as quoted by Matthew’s Gospel contrast the darkness and light between the world we live in and the Kingdom of God ushered in by Risen Christ. We all are familiar with shadows or darkness in our lives. When we experience unsettling, tragic, and evil events we fail to comprehend the meaning or its purpose. Sometimes we stumble in the dark, are unable to make sense of it all, and become fearful of the unknowns of the future.
During this Holy Week, we journeyed with Jesus and his disciples from a triumphant entry into Jerusalem to his humiliating and devastating crucifixion on the cross. The hope of many who believed in Jesus as the Messiah was dashed when he died and was laid in a tomb. Many of his chosen disciples were too afraid to be with Jesus in his hour of need on Calvary, and the burden of guilt weighed heavy on them. In their mind, life would now go on as before. On Sunday morning, women devoted to Jesus went to the tomb to anoint his body only to find an empty tomb and angelic men telling them that Jesus had risen. Initially the rest of the disciples greeted the women’s news with incredulity, but Peter went to the tomb to witness for himself and was amazed.
The resurrection of Jesus was -- as is now and forever will be -- a life-changing and an amazing event. Not only for the disciples but for each of us, once we understand the resurrection of Christ, nothing remains the same as it was before. I remember the Easter Vigil mass at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Gonzales just months before I entered the seminary. As throngs of people received the Body of Christ from Fr. Phil Spano, I was moved to witness the faith of the people who desired to touch and to be with the Risen Christ. When I received Jesus in the Holy Communion, he was dwelling in me as the Lord of my life and not just a concept in a bible. What I thought was important in my life up until that time--my career, hobbies, and possessions-- was suddenly not a priority to me.
The Risen Christ lives in us. Jesus is alive; he no longer belongs to the past but lives in the present. As St. Paul reminds us that through our baptism, our old self has been crucified with Christ and now we live for Him. No longer do we ask ourselves, “What do I want to do in my life.” Our lives have been purchased at a great price, therefore, we need to ask ourselves, “What does Jesus want with my life.”
While our daily failures, problems, and worries can momentarily plunge us into darkness, the Risen Christ is within us, to raise us up in His joy, hope, and new beginning. St. John Paul II eloquently explained:
“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life which will reach its fulfillment in the resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world.”
Let us invite Risen Jesus into our lives. He is here with us, right now! Let us trust him as a friend and the Lord of our lives. Deacon Tim and I wish all of you a joyful and happy Easter.