Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Joy

“Peter proceeded to speak and said:
"You know what has happened all over Judea…” (Acts 2:34a,37)

"The joy of the resurrection renews the whole world." --From the Old Translation of the First Easter Preface

We are filled with overwhelming joy on the Easter morning.  We have gathered to celebrate the triumph of our Lord over sin and death.  This joy, as the liturgy tells us, renews the whole world and should renew us this day.  During Lent, we put to death our sinful ways and now we walk in the freedom of God’s children.  This Sunday is special because we gather in great numbers to celebrate the central mystery of our faith.  This indeed is the day the Lord has made and we rejoice and are glad as the psalm says.  But my friends, every Sunday is special, every Sunday is a mini-Easter, every Sunday IS the Lord’s Day.  A dear friend texts me every Sunday morning to wish me a “Happy Sunday.”  It is a recognition that this day is different from all others.  It is a day dedicated to family, rest, and most importantly, it is the Lord’s day.  But today is the Sunday of Sundays.  It is Easter Sunday and we are definitely filled with the radiant joy of the resurrection that transforms us.

Last night at our Easter Vigil, eight of your fellow parishioners received the Easter sacraments and were baptized, confirmed, and received first communion.  One of them was a 16-year-old girl wise beyond her years.  Whenever I would visit her class and talk about lofty concepts of our faith, she would pay close attention to everything that was said.  Last night, her face was as radiant as that of the risen Christ as she knelt before the baptismal font and was baptized.  Later on she was confirmed and received the Eucharist for the first time.  While I was finishing to distribute communion, she was kneeling in the first pew about three feet away.  When I was done, she murmured something to me that I couldn’t quite understand.  I leaned in closer and she told me with an angelic and joy-filled smile, “Father, I want to do it again!”  I smiled from ear to ear.  Here we have a 16-year-old girl who gets what Easter is all about. The joy of the resurrection truly does indeed renew the whole world.  Sometimes adults who have practiced the faith for many years have to pause and reflect on what Easter really means to them.

We know the story.  We know what has happened as Peter tells us in the first reading.  But what are we doing to share the joy of the resurrection?  We cannot leave this joy here in church.  Yes, it feels great here on Easter morning with a beautifully decorated altar, heavenly music with trumpets, strings, and choir, but this joy dies here as surely as Christ died on the cross if we don’t take it beyond the walls of this church and spread it to every corner of the earth.  My friends, the Lord has freed us from our bondage to sin.  He has freely given to us the gift of immortality.  He has filled our lives with joy and peace.  Is that not worth sharing?  This young girl through her witness will share this joy because you could tell last night that she had fallen in love with her faith and with this man named Jesus who died and rose for her and gave her new life.  He did the same for you.  What will you do for him?