“Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:5-6).
Do not be afraid…. For three days creation groaned and ached, mourning God’s silence. We waited in the darkness, which came over the earth on Good Friday. Three women come at dawn, daring to approach the guarded tomb, intending to anoint a corpse.
“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day”(Luke 24:5-7).
Remember what he said…. And suddenly the Lord’s words returned to them just as the sun made its appearance that morning.
“Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples….” (Mark 16:6-7). Darkness is shattered by light. Despair is replaced with hope. Sin is made powerless through reconciliation. Death is conquered by Life. And now in our day, a cold winter is giving way to spring. Lent has given way to Easter. Life is slowly returning to the earth. Through the Cross, our greatest enemy, death, has been defeated forever.
We have spent 40 days in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We have spent 40 days preparing to renew our Baptism commitment, which we do today in place of the Creed. We have prayerfully commemorated and mourned the Death of the Lord, taken time to enter into this great mystery. It is time to rejoice and celebrate the greatest mystery of our faith. Death is not the end, but a transformation. It is a rebirth, the final stage of life. And now we spend the next 50 days (the 40 days of Lent plus 10) celebrating God’s tremendous gift of Life.
For the present, this first week of the Easter Season, commonly called the Octave of Easter, is treated as one single Easter Day stretched out over the first eight days of the season. The daily Masses are celebrated with the same enthusiasm as Easter Sunday. The daily Gospels are all various accounts of the Resurrection, taken from each of the four Gospels. Next Sunday’s Gospel, the Octave of Easter, will situate us on Easter Sunday evening. It is fitting that we begin this season of the Church year with such enthusiasm. The fasting is over. It is time to come to the Feast.
Congratulations and welcome to all the newly-initiated members of our community – those who were Baptized and those who were received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. We have been praying for them since they took their first steps in the RCIA process last fall. It is great to celebrate their full initiation into our church family. Special thanks go to our RCIA team for their faithful efforts in personally sharing their faith and preparing these men and women to take these steps in their lives.
Thank you to all who helped make our observance of Lent and the celebration of the Easter Triduum so prayerful. Karen Stefanic and Sue Entwistle coordinated our efforts, set the tone for the different seasons and selected the liturgical options we used. The Art and Environment Committee led by Dorothy Jaskey guided us in the different seasons through their attention to the atmosphere in our worship spaces. Their faithful work behind the scenes has contributed much to the tone of our celebrations. Thank you to all of our music ministers – Karen Stefanic, our Director of Music, to our musicians, choir members, cantors and instrumentalists. Your hours of preparation and rehearsal bore fruit in your leading us in song throughout all of the different observances and celebrations. Thank you to our Lectors who proclaimed God’s Word with faith and conviction. Thank you to the Altar Servers and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist who assisted at the altar. Thank you to our Knights of Columbus who served in our parking lot on both Palm/Passion Sunday and Easter, and who provided an Honor Guard on Holy Thursday night. And finally, thank you to all of you, the faith-filled people of St. Isidore parish. As we joined together in our community prayer throughout these past weeks, we encouraged and supported each other in ways we will never know. I am especially grateful for the hospitality you extended to all of our visitors today.
Have a blessed Easter! Notice the different ways in which God is transforming death into life all around us. Look for ways to celebrate God’s gift of life among us. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy