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Happy Easter! The Lord is Risen! And we are renewed in faith that one day we will rise with him. We put on our best to come into the Lord’s presence today. We know that we celebrate something special: Christ’s victory over the tomb. We were created by God to live not to die because we share in his image and likeness. And so we were made to be beautiful in his sight now and forever. But our sins corrupt this beautiful design of God. And so all through Lent we have been striving to remove from us the things that cause this corruption with fasting, prayer, and sacrifices for others so that we can receive the grace of a new life in Christ, where we are recreated in that original beauty of holiness. Holiness is something more than our outward appearance. It is state of soul. It is being in love with God and with creation. It is a spirit of joy in our hearts. And it is if this year all of creation is rejoicing with us. It is springtime and the flowers are in full blood with all the beautiful colors and smells. The trees are full of leaves. The birds are singing. This is the day the Lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad! New life is all around us, and through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, new life in us. It is a taste of Heaven. St. Paul says in the second reading: “Now that we have been raised with Christ let us keep this new spirit alive by seeking what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, not of what is on earth.” In Heaven it is springtime forever, for all eternity, and without the pollen!

Jesus made it this eternal happiness possible by suffering a violent death through torture and crucifixion. Jesus allowed it all so that he could take all the hate and sin that has ever existed or ever will exist on to his sacred body and then offered it as the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of the whole world. And now all who believe in him will receive this forgiveness through his name. That is why we call Jesus, “Lord.” He is not just a man but he is the Lord God who loves us and has removed our guilt. What a great act of love! What an amazing gift of mercy! He makes this mercy and forgiveness available to us now through the Sacrament of Confession and so all who went to Confession during Lent are now able to receive his Risen Body and Blood in the Eucharist and renew the salvation that he won for us. Easter Sunday helps us to feel his presence in a new and powerful way.

Today’s Gospel gives a description of the very first Easter Sunday - those first hours after the resurrection. We hear the description of the tomb, the place where Jesus was buried and how Mary of Magdala found the stone removed. We hear how the apostles Peter and John ran to the tomb and found it empty. And so it is an exciting Gospel and since it is the same one proclaimed in every parish today, all Catholics throughout the world are being equally inspired. But it is somewhat unusual because usually the Church includes the words from Jesus when a Gospel is proclaimed in the Mass. But today there is just a description of those who first saw the empty tomb and no words of Jesus. So what is the reason? I think what the Church is prompting us to do now is to be the words of Jesus, to present his message of love and mercy to others, to give them the Good News of eternal life for everyone who believes in him, to encourage those who are in sin to receive forgiveness through his name.” We become the words of Christ through our own words and actions. That what it means to be Christian. The Resurrection changes us so that we become like Christ who speaks and works through us to change others. We don’t live for the world but for Heaven and it makes others want to know the cause of our joy.

Next Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, we will celebrate two Christians who changed the world: Pope John the 23rd and Pope John Paul II. The Church will recognize them as saints. They spread the Gospel of the Resurrection of Jesus. John the 23rd opened up the Second Vatican Council which was a movement of the Holy Spirit to renew the Church and the whole world. John Paul II gave us so many things, one of which is the message of the Divine Mercy of Jesus. And next Sunday is also Divine Mercy Sunday, a day of great grace.

And so we will celebrate these days of new life with great joy. The Easter Season continues for 50 straight days! It is what we have prepared all year for, and so we want to celebrate it a long time. But every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection and a time to renew our hope of eternal life. May you experience Easter Joy today and feel in a personal way the love and mercy of Jesus that is all around you. May you feel the excitement of those first disciples who found the tomb empty and the stone rolled away. The tomb is empty and so we are filled with the life of Christ. And may we all continue to renew and celebrate this every Sunday until we share in the eternal springtime of heavenly glory. Amen.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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