Easter Sunday (2018)
Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
In John’s gospel the privilege of being the first witness to the resurrection is given to Mary Magdalen, a person thought by many to be notoriously sinful. God’s eternal plan began with an announcement to a sinless Mary. The fulfillment of God’s plan is personally revealed to another Mary who is unable to brag about being without sin, but who represents the countless number of sinners whose lives were touched by the public ministry of Jesus. For indeed, what we have been celebrating during this Holy Week, what we are celebrating on Easter and throughout the Easter season, is that God so loved the world that he sent His only Son into that world. While Jesus embraced life to the fullest, our salvation would only be won when he embraced death, embraced the agony of the cross. Unable to win our own salvation for ourselves, Christ won it for us, and for Mary, and for Judas, and for the good and bad thieves. Mary Magdalen’s privileged position at the virtual end of this salvific drama is no accident, for it confirms the entire earthly ministry of Jesus who reached out to the poor and downtrodden, to tax collectors and sinners, to the weak and marginalized, to us.
Easter is the quintessential feast for all Christians, for it proclaims the triumph of good over evil, life over suffering and death. Our hope in a loving God is confirmed, and our trust that God will never abandon us is strengthened. The empty tomb vindicates all that Jesus taught his disciples, that “he who believes has eternal life” (Jn 6:47). “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him” (Jn 14:23). Easter gives us once again the chance to shout and sing our Alleluias, for we are filled with gratitude at what God has wrought.
As a youngster I remember an Easter homily from Abbot Alban Boultwood, the first abbot of St. Anselm’s Abbey in Washington, D.C. The homily spoke of Christians, on account of Easter, always being an “alleluia” from head to foot. With a keen grasp of the human condition, however, the abbot was quick to query about those times when we don’t exactly feel like an “alleluia,” when the challenges of life have perhaps gotten us down, when the world situation discourages us, or our personal problems overwhelm us. Yes there are times when it is hard to be an “alleluia” people.
The great celebration of Easter, a celebration so great it has to be contained liturgically in an eight-day celebration, is meant to remind us of the joy and the gratitude which is always meant to characterize Christians. There is no place for a perpetually sad person in Christianity! Such a person would only be possible if it was possible to forget what God has done for us. We are not only reminded of the price of our salvation on Easter, but we are reminded every time we have the privilege of gathering together for the Eucharist, for that sacrament is always meant to remind us of Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
Let us then truly be an “Alleluia” people, alleluias from head to toe in good times as well as bad. Let us rejoice for Easter truly is the day that the Lord has made to remind us of all that God has done for us. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! Alleluia! Alleluia! Happy Easter!