Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christ is Risen: Alleluia, Alleluia

Today is the most important day of the year, because today we remember the most important day in the history of the world. Today we remember the most important event in human history. Today we celebrate the feast of Easter. We recall that day when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. By his rising from the dead, Christ destroys sin and death forever. He liberates us from our captivity. He gives to each of us the promise of everlasting life. In the resurrection we see the great victory of Christ our hero.

The resurrection is the most important event in human history, but it should also be the most important event in our lives as individuals, because the resurrection is the center of our faith and our source of meaning. Everything that the Catholic Church teaches is held together by the resurrection. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, this is shown most clearly when he rises from the dead. In the resurrection of Christ we see the promise of eternal life for each of us, because if Jesus is raised from the dead then we believe that he will raise us as well. All the doctrines of the Church become easy to believe if we first believe in the resurrection.

And, second, if we believe in the resurrection of Christ this event will lend new meaning to our lives. It is a certain fact that we experience much pain and suffering in this life. We experience physical and emotional pain, we experience sickness, we experience grief, sadness, loneliness, and worst of all we experience death. However, in the heart of each human person there is a subtle rebellion against these experiences. Somewhere deep down we fight against pain, sadness, loneliness, and death. Deep within the human person is an unsettling feeling that this isn't right: we are not supposed to suffer, we are not supposed to die. If we believe that human existence is nothing more than pure chance, then our existence is quite absurd. If death is simply a part of life, then our dissatisfaction with suffering and death simply leads to a kind of meaninglessness, because our lives are empty. This is the sad state of affairs for those who do not believe in Christ. But, for those of us who do believe in the resurrection, we see everything differently don't we? When Jesus rises from the dead, he changes everything. No longer does suffering, pain, hardship, and death have the last word. These things had plenty to say on Good Friday, when Christ suffered and died. But, he silenced them forever by rising today. So when we suffer, when we grieve, when we are lonely, or in pain we look to that empty tomb and see in the resurrection of Christ an end to pain, suffering, and death.

But, the resurrection of Jesus cannot remain simply an historical event, because a merely historical event will not give us meaning and direction. Rather, our faith in the resurrection must come from an experience with the risen Christ. Look at St. Peter for example. Just 3 days ago he denied our Lord 3 times, but today we read about him preaching the truth to thousands: what changed? He experienced Christ risen from the dead. What about us? Can we see Jesus? The empty tomb is Good News. The empty tomb means that Jesus is no longer bound by time and space. The empty tomb means that Jesus is available and present to all believers. We might not see Jesus the way St. Peter saw him, but we can indeed meet Jesus in our lives because he is no longer in that tomb, he is risen.

We see this most clearly when we come here to this altar, when we celebrate this holy Eucharist we see the Risen Christ. Now it is true that we see him in another mode, we don't see him exactly as those early disciples did, but it is no less real, no less true. Jesus Christ, the one risen from the dead, comes to us each and every time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. It is this experience of the risen Christ that fills us with joy, that fills us with Easter faith. Christ is truly risen: alleluia, alleluia.

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