“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)
Last night, at the beginning of our Easter Vigil, after the Easter Proclamation was sung, all the candles were extinguished and the church was in total darkness, save the light emanating from the Paschal Candle. We could not see. But something happened as we started hearing the readings that told the history of our salvation: our eyes began to adjust to the darkness. At first from my chair on the sanctuary I saw nothing. Then I began to make out silhouettes of the people in the pews, and as we grew closer to the Gloria and the lights being turned on, I was finally able to see what was going on in the back of the church. When we abide in darkness, we get used to darkness. Conformity sets in. That is the trap of the darkness of sin: we become used to it. We cannot see true light and the things we do in the darkness that offend our Lord become habitual, commonplace, and we become slaves of sin. We basically become trapped in a tomb.
When Mary Magdalene and the other women go to the tomb early on that first Easter Sunday morning, the angels appear and pose to them a very good question that is most certainly asked of us on this day: Why do we look for the living among the dead? Why do seek life where there's death? Why do we look for light in the darkness? Why do we seek joy where sin abounds? Why don't we first go to the source of all life, the one who conquered death? And that’s why we celebrate today because Christ has overcome death and has freed us from the darkness. We cannot and should not be subjects of the evil one any longer because our Lord has once and for all freed us from a slavery that was worse than what the Israelites experienced in Egypt: the slavery to sin and death. Yet we hesitate because we grow comfortable in the darkness where we don’t hear the whisperings of the Lord. We grow comfortable surrounded by a world that drowns the voice of God out because we are unable, unwilling, maybe even afraid to change. Open the tombstone that is covering your heart and let the light of the Risen Christ in just a little. Trust in him. “Do not be afraid,” the angels told the women. Light is what brings clarity, what brings peace, what brings joy! We will not find it in the darkness. We will not find it in a world that ignores God and ignores, adjusts or rewrites the moral truths that God has written in the hearts of all. We will only find true joy when we allow Jesus to take our hand and raise us from the depths of sin and into the new life he has prepared for us.
Over 10,000 people walked through the doors of our church during this Holy Week. Each seeking something different, but all longing to be at peace with their God. My message to you today as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord is that we share this news. Something is stirring in our Church. It began before Lent when Benedict steered us in a different direction that ultimately led to Francis being elected as his successor. I’ve never believed the media hype that the Church is in turmoil because I have always seen a Church that is very much alive! And now it is as if the fountains of grace that come from above are overflowing and a new day has arrived. Easter is that new day. That day when we are called to share the Good News of the Risen Lord. That day when we renew our baptismal promises, are cleansed with the holy waters of baptism, and sent forth to shout “Halleluiah!” from the highest mountain. That is where true joy resides. Sharing this news and living it as well by serving the poor, the sick, the outcasts, and those who have forgotten that God loves them. God loves us so much that he sent his only Son to suffer the cruelest of deaths only to raise him up so that we might have life. This life is yours my friend. Look for the living AMONG THE LIVING! Stop fooling yourself into thinking that a life without Jesus is a happy life. A life without Jesus is no life at all. He came to bring us life and life in abundance. Today we share in that abundance and are called to share it with others. Our God is full of surprises as Pope Francis told us last night. What surprise does he have in store for you if you would only let the light of the resurrection penetrate your heart?