What do you want for Easter? That’s never quite caught on as it has for Christmas, has it? You rarely hear people freaking out over not getting their Easter shopping done. I don’t remember the last time I got an Easter card (or in fairness, ever sending one myself). Even Easter decorations are mild in comparison to what we find starting around Columbus Day every year. It’s not for lack of trying. Different marketing geniuses have made a go of it over the years trying to capitalize on Peter Rabbit, Egg hunts, and even photos with the Easter Bunny. Talking to most parents though, if you thought kids are a bit put off from sitting with Santa, ask them how freaked out they get when you bring them to a 12-foot rabbit.
Thanks so much for stopping by to read my homily for THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST – EASTER SUNDAY- April 9, 2023, for sharing it on your social media posts and your feedback and comments… I’m also grateful for all those who’ve asked for the audio version and share them as well at SOUNDCLOUD click HERE or from ITUNES as a podcast HERE. May the Lord be glorified in your reading and sharing- Father Jim
Don’t get me wrong, after the annual “War on Christmas” debates and controversies every year, I’m not disappointed that this hasn’t happened to Easter. It’s just interesting that for these two, greatest of feasts for Christians, the lesser of the two in importance, Jesus’ birth, has for many been manipulated to the point that great numbers of people could have no idea of the true origins of that holiday. Christmas, as we celebrate the moment in history when God the Father, sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be born of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit; an event being equally miraculous and the humblest of moments has somehow become a global economic engine that is central to the survival of many stores even industries. Evidenced by the fact that the day after Thanksgiving has been called “Black Friday” because Christmas gift buying is at a peak that companies accounting ledgers often move from being in debt and in the red to profitable and in the black. With Christmas where so many can take God’s gifting to humanity -or the wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus and see a loose understanding of how we get into a gift-buying frenzy, there’s not the same hook or spin at Easter. Even though Christmas and Easter both celebrate the same thing: Jesus Christ, has come to save humanity from sin and from death.
Maybe because at Christmas there’s simply the promise of that… it’s not too difficult to allow distractions with more worldly things to enter in. People can agree to say they want to be saved from sin and from death, but those realities are painful and difficult to think about. So we get caught up in the images of a newborn child that we paint in more idyllic images than were actuality. Most nativity scenes look incredibly peaceful and beautiful even if that’s a far cry from what Jesus, Mary, and Joseph first experienced.
But at Easter, it is impossible to look away from what it cost Jesus to save humanity from sin and death. That Jesus suffered an unjust trial, a torturous Passion, and a horrific death on the Cross to fulfill that promise.
What do you want for Easter?
Over 40 days ago we began our preparations and journey to this day. Renewing our practices of prayer, fasting, and giving to respond to the invitation we heard as we began the season of Lent. Where we had these dirty ashes put on our heads, we heard sober, impactful words: Repent and believe in the gospel – or – Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return. All of those weeks of Lent were to make us greater attuned to our brokenness. What is it that is weighing us down? What is it that causes us to worry or fear? All of those weeks of Lent are designed to show us how the sin of Adam and Eve affects and afflicts us. Like them, we’re tempted by the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride. Where we can let our hungers, our needs, and our desires, become so exaggerated, our pursuit at fulfilling them that we forget who we are and even worse, whose we are.
Easter celebrates the fulfillment of God’s promises that in Jesus, sin and death have been defeated. And when we were baptized, you and I were saved from those realities – even as we continue to struggle with them. Even if we still feel their effects of them. Jesus Christ risen from the dead lives forever and wants us not just to worship and give thanks to God for His resurrection, but for us to experience His resurrected life ourselves.
We know that from the testimony of those who went before us. Simon Peter, who between Holy Thursday and Good Friday had the ultimate roller coaster of responses from promising Jesus that he was ready to die for him to denying three times he even knew Jesus… We hear him encountering the empty tomb in the Gospel. That’s the beginning of a new chapter in his life – which will transform him from being so impulsive and emotional to confident and convicted. We have an example of that in that first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Where now Simon Peter actually goes into the home of a Roman Centurion and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. St. Paul who at one point thought his mission in life was to eradicate anyone or anything having to do with Jesus Christ for the purification and survival of the Jewish people after he encounters the Risen Christ abandons all of his ambitions, his career; recognizes how his arrogance had blinded him from seeing and hearing the truth and becomes one of the greatest preachers and authors of the New Testament. In the 2nd Reading today from his letter to the Colossians shares his experience as advice: Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. Mary Magdelene, whose life in Christ and her conviction makes her the bravest and first of all the disciples to go to the tomb… Even though the horror of Good Friday was fresh in her mind, even though it was unsafe for her to travel to the tomb while it was still dark, as soon as the Sabbath was over, she can’t stay away from the tomb of the one who had saved her in exorcizing a demon that had tormented her… Her love for Jesus who had transformed her life in ways she had never imagined possible would not be crucified on Good Friday as she stayed at the foot of His cross. And as she brings Simon Peter and John to the empty tomb – she will be the first one to encounter the Risen Christ and entrusted to be His Easter messenger to the apostles [spoiler alert… that’s in the verses that follows]
What do you want for Easter? Conventional wisdom will continue to treat Christmas as the more important holiday with so much of what is the shallowest of temporal wants being appealed to and the true meaning of that holiday only being a facade of the true meaning. But in this place, on this day, we are reminded of greater and more important realities that we struggle with that are at the heart of all fear and sadness are conquered in Christ rising from the dead. These first witnesses not only testify to the fact that a very dead Jesus was very much alive again. And once they accepted that it changes everything they could have ever wanted or imagined. The things of this world that had so often dominated their hearts and minds began to fade in importance. And if what we want for Easter is for goodness to come out of evil, hope out of despair, and life out of death – we are called to Believe. Believe in the power and love that the Resurrection shows: that He has done that. That He continues to do that. Happy Easter!