A word from Pope Francis ~ “The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us.”
Welcome to the great celebration of Easter 2021! Even though it has been over a year now that we have struggled with the presence of the Coronavirus in our neighborhoods, our state, our country and our world, Easter has come! Life has triumphed! Even though we continue to live with face masks and social distancing, we join together in faith wherever we are. As we take our places at the table of the Lord – either in-person or virtually – we remember the power of today’s feast.
“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 long winter is giving way to spring. Lent has given way to Easter. A world-wide pandemic will end. Life will slowly return to the earth. Through the Cross, our greatest enemy, sin and death, has been defeated forever.
As we continue our “social distancing” and line up for vaccinations, 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, ushering us into 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.
I hope that you were able to participate in our Masses that we live streamed over the past year and joined us in-person when you were able. We will continue to live stream the 10:00am English and 11:30am Spanish Mass for as long as it is needed. We never thought when we began doing this over a year ago that we would still be gathering for Mass in our homes. We wait for the day when we can throw open our doors, welcome each other in person and gather as the Lord has asked us to do “in memory of Me.”
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 on 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.
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