Nothing can separate us from that Love incarnated in the Crucified, Risen Son of the True and Living God. Alleluia! The light floods the once dark cave and fills the entire world with hope. The debt has been paid, the last enemy death has been defeated, hell has been conquered, the captives have been liberated, love has triumphed and heavens gates have been opened wide. He is Alive and all those who stand at the Altar of the Cross, and in the light of the empty tomb, believing in His promise, shall live forever in Him, beginning now. Easter is about a new way of life.
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - In the Epistle reading for our Mass during the day on Easter Sunday, the Apostle Paul reminds the early Christians - and reminds all of us who stand with them in the continuing redemptive mission of the Lord - of an aspect of our celebration. Not only has the Lord whom we love been raised - but we who have been baptized into Him have already been raised with Him!
"Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth; For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory." (Col. 3: 1- 4)
At the Easter Vigil last night the new flame was lit. As a deacon of the Church I had the honor of carrying the Paschal candle into the dark sanctuary proclaiming "The Light of Christ". Candle by candle, the light of the Resurrection illuminated the world around us as He who is the Light of the World fills it with His radiance.
I then sang that ancient hymn of the Church which captures the depth of the mystery we celebrate on Easter, the Exultet, "Exult,let them exult, the hosts of heaven. Exult, let Angel ministers of God exult. Let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty Kings triumph! Be glad let earth be glad as glory floods her.
"Ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightning of His glory, let this Holy Building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples!" The words to this ancient hymn offer the deepest insights from the early Church into the meaning of the Paschal mystery.
The Vigil Liturgy readings walked us through the Old Testament into the New Testament - unfolding the great plan of a loving God who did not leave us in sin but sent His only Son into the world to save us and set us free from the chains of sin and the ravages of death!
This world which He had created in love through the Word is now re-created from within through the Incarnation- the Saving Life, Death and Resurrection, of the Word made Flesh. The One whom the Scriptures proclaim as the first born of the new creation burst forth from the tomb and began the New Creation.
Throughout the world, Catechumens, those prepared through catechesis (instruction in the faith) for Baptism and the Easter sacraments - and Candidates, Christians of other communities whose Baptism the Holy Church recognizes, prepared along with them for the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist, were incorporated into the full communion of Church, the Risen Body of the One who has been Raised; the One in whom we have been raised.
The palpable joy of Easter flooded Christians as we witnessed the power of God, Sacramentally mediated through those saving waters of Baptism, the Oil of Chrism and the reception of the most Holy Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Tears flowed like a river and the cold hearts of many of the faithful were enkindled once again by the great Easter Flame.
In our parish many adults were baptized. They walked down into a Font which had been lovingly built by men of the parish just this year. As they came out of those saving waters the entire Church erupted with Easter joy. As our priest confirmed them, pouring the Sacred Chrism on their Head - and, along with them, the others who had come into the full communion of the Church from other Christian communities - the utter wonder of it filled my soul.
I was profoundly moved by the beauty of the ancient yet ever new Catholic faith as it was expressed in its Liturgical fullness. When, standing alongside of our priest, I was able to offer them the Holy Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus for the first time, I was moved to tears.I have watched over the months as these dear people have yielded their lives to the Risen Lord and experienced the truth which they affirmed this evening, He Has Been raised and lives among us in the heart of the Church, for the sake of the world.
Nothing can separate us from that Love incarnated in the Crucified, Risen Son of the True and Living God. Alleluia! The light floods the once dark cave and fills the entire world with hope. The debt has been paid, the last enemy death has been defeated, hell has been conquered, the captives have been liberated, love has triumphed and heavens gates have been opened wide. He is Alive and all those who stand at the Altar of the Cross, and the light of the empty tomb, believing in His promise, shall live forever in Him, beginning now.
With the Mass of Easter day we begin the Octave, eight days of feasting on the readings which Holy Mother Church sets out on the table of the Ambo and receiving the Risen One in the most Holy Eucharist, becoming what we consume. We will hear the marvelous post Resurrection accounts and follow the extraordinary change which occurred in the early Apostles as the power of this Resurrection fashioned them into a living witness for the faith.
We will celebrate Easter for fifty days until we celebrate the next great Feast, the Feast of Pentecost. Alleluias will permeate our worship - and they are meant to inform our lives. That is because, in the words of the great western Church Bishop, Augustine, "we are an Easter people and alleluia is our song."
Everything is different now because that Tomb is empty. We are different now because we have been raised with Christ. We have been capacitated, through the Resurrection, to begin living our lives in a new way. Have you have heard the old adage, used often in a disparaging way, "He´s so heavenly he is no earthly good." I suggest again that it misses the mark completely.
We Easter people are called to be so heavenly- to live our lives so attractively - that we bring Goodness Himself to the earth and move the earth toward its eternal recreation in Him. Easter is more than a day; it is a way of living our lives now in Him, and with one another for the sake of the world.
Because He has been raised, heaven has come to earth and earth can now come to heaven. Because He has been raised, the new creation has already begun. The seed of the kingdom is manifested in the Church which is His Risen Body, the sign of the new heaven and new earth. That Holy Place of Habitation where all men and women are called to be set free from the Law of sin and death, live and graze, being fed on His Word and nourished on His Body and Blood, healed by His Oil of Mercy and prepared for eternity.
As we follow Peter and John, whose story we heard proclaimed in our Gospel lesson for Easter Sunday, we witness the power of the Resurrection at work in the lives of ordinary men and women who become extraordinary by living their lives in Him. No longer afraid, these witnesses of the Resurrection, in the words of the Acts of the Apostles, "turn the world upside down with their preaching."
They became so configured to the Lord that they lived and died like Him, for the sake of the world which is being re-born now, because he has been raised. So too can we turn our world upside down because the Resurrection makes all things new, beginning now!
The implications of the Resurrection unfolded for them as they reflected on His saving life and death and yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit in their own lives. So it must for us now, as we realize that Easter is more than a day, it is a way. Time became for them a tutor, no longer a tyrant.
Because the sting of death, sin, had been defeated, it became for them a portal into eternal life and communion with the One who has been raised. So it is for each of us who now bear His Name. Time invites us into a field of choice where we can progress in freedom and become configured to the One whose Holy Resurrection we are celebrating.
Easter is more than a Day, it is a Way; A Way of living our lives differently now in Him because we have been set free. We are invited to do that by living them daily in His Church. The Church is His Body. The Church is the new world, in the course of transfiguration. That world created through Him out of love but which was lost due to sin, is now being made new! His tomb is empty.
He came among us and began creation anew. That is why we celebrate. Death has been defeated by His Saving Death. In His Resurrection, we now live no more to die. Darkness has been scattered by the Light which breaks forth from that empty tomb and is meant to infuse our daily lives with the radiance of Resurrected love. What a Day! What a Way, the Easter Way, Alleluia!
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