The Lord is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!
Brothers and sisters, there is NO love like the love of God in Jesus Christ. God is PASSIONATE for the man and the woman He created—He is passionate for each and every one of you and me.
He is passionate enough to accept being truly immersed in OUR suffering, and even to surrender the power of death… so to enter into our pain and our loneliness and our fear. In His Son, Jesus Christ, God scours the very depths of HELL to look for us and to take us upon His broad shoulders and to bring us home to Himself.
It was YOUR flesh and blood and MY flesh and blood that God took to Himself in Jesus, so to reveal to us A LOVE STRONGER THAN DEATH. Our humanity now has “a place within God” because Christ rose to new life with OUR humanity (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, p. 274). This is the meaning of our Easter celebration. After the horror of the crucifixion, and the abandonment and the shame, God FREELY reveals His gift of RESURRECTION. Jesus told His disciples, “I am going away and I will return to you. I do not leave you orphans.” Brothers and sisters, though at times we may think God is silent HE NEVER abandons us. When we think He does not remember us in our suffering, it is especially then that God is most active preparing an eternal dwelling for us.
So then, it is not ONLY Christ’s victory we celebrate today, but the promise of OUR VICTORY in Jesus. Following the homily, we will renew our baptismal promises and be sprinkled with the newly-blessed Easter water, that symbolizes the waters poured upon us in Baptism. On the day of your Baptism, God made an eternal covenant with you. On that day, through the action of the priest in the company of the whole Church, God etched into your very being the very name of His Son and planted in you the seed of eternal life. We bear this SEED.
ETERNAL LIFE is not a perpetual “continuation” of the life we experience now. It is a life of abundant love and joy, a life that has NO fear or self-concern. It is the life we LONG for in the depths of our hearts—to know a LOVE that has no end or conditions.
It is our Christian belief that the gift of RISEN life begins here on earth. Brothers and sisters, understand! We are not celebrating an event of the past, or an event to come in the future. It is a reality NOW in this moment…. We who are baptized into Christ’s death are baptized into His resurrection. But the disciples running to the tomb in today’s Gospel show us HOW we are to receive this gift of new life. We are told Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved ran to the tomb, the other disciple who arrived first, BENT DOWN and LOOKED into the empty tomb, saw the burial cloths, entered the tomb and BELIEVED. We are called to BEND DOWN in faith, to make ourselves small as it were—to put aside our selfishness, our pride, our resentment of others—and to believe—to humble ourselves before the mystery of Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Many do not come to know Jesus as Lord, even many baptized Catholics, because they refuse to run to the tomb, to humble themselves and to believe. They insist on holding on to the hurt and anger that is so familiar, rather than to embrace the freeing love of Christ Jesus that makes us new.
We Catholic Christians believe that the Risen Jesus touches our lives and transforms us EVERY TIME we receive the Sacraments—when we come to Holy Communion, when we receive the Sacrament of Penance—we encounter the living Jesus. How many do not come to Sunday Mass because they think there is nothing to be gained there! And yet EVERY time we receive the Eucharist, we receive the RISEN LIFE of Jesus Christ into our own body and soul! We can go pray by ourselves, go get exercise, commune with nature and even stand on our heads, BUT nothing we do can give us that RISEN LIFE that we receive in the EUCHARIST. God wants us to receive His Risen Life… Imagine the person you love most and how you would so desire to give what is most intimate to them … imagine then, this person you love casually dismissing this most intimate gift of yourself. How much MORE Christ wishes to give us the gift of His Risen Life in the Eucharist.
Today, let us all “run to the empty tomb” moved by love and let us bend down and humble ourselves so to receive through faith the gift of Christ’s Risen Life. Jesus Christ is our Savior, now and forever!
Let me finish with the words spoken last night by Pope Francis in Rome:
“Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do” (Easter Vigil Homily, Vatican Radio).