A word from Pope Francis ~ “May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us in to the light of His glorious day.”
Easter 2023! Even though we live in times of suffering and darkness, Easter is here. Life has triumphed! We emerge from the darkness and join together in faith and claim our places at the table with the Lord.
“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. Life will slowly return to the earth. Through the Cross, our greatest enemy, sin and death have been defeated forever.
In the midst of our uncertainties, 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 the darkness of this great mystery. And now it is time to rejoice and celebrate the greatest mystery of our faith. Death is not the end, but a transformation. It is a new birth, ushering us into the final stage of life. And so we spend the next 50 days celebrating God’s tremendous gift of Life.
I thank God that we are able to celebrate these great mysteries together, in person. It was just a few years ago that we celebrated the Easter Triduum in an empty church, with a skeleton crew figuring out how to livestream the services with the help of an iPhone. Thank you to all of you who have helped this year to make our Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil celebrations so powerful here in our church together.
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, the Octave of Easter, the Gospel 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