Bishop Barron Sunday Podcast
Fr. Andrew Ricci
Friends, a very blessed and happy Easter to you all! The Resurrection of Jesus is the be-all and the end-all of the Christian faith. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then all bishops, priests, and Christian ministers should go home and get honest jobs. If he did rise from the dead, then he’s the full manifestation of God, and he must be the center of your life. In light of that, I’d like to look at three great lessons that follow from this strange and decisive truth of the Resurrection.
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Friends, a blessed and peaceful Easter to you! Although grave sites are known to be quiet places of reflection, God, through his sovereign power, overcame the corruption of sin by his Resurrection from the dead this Easter morning. From his empty tomb, we learn that God doesn’t let death have the last word—and thereupon hangs the tale of Easter.
Easter Sunday represents God’s great yes to humanity. Throughout history, humanity has turned its back on God, but the Lord has constantly sent rescue operations to bring us back into community with him. The Resurrection of Christ is the definitive rescue operation and is our great hope for salvation.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation of the entire Christian faith. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we should all go home and forget about it. As St. Paul himself puts it: “If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and we are the most pitiable of men.” But Jesus was, in fact, raised from the dead. And his resurrection shows that Christ can gather back to the Father everyone whom he has embraced through his suffering love.
Many people enjoy visiting the graves of famous people, from Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, IL to St. Peter in the Vatican. We feel a sense of peace and finality around graves. But the one thing we would never expect in a cemetery is action. Yet that’s precisely what we find at the center of Christianity, as St. John recounts in today’s Easter Gospel.
Our first reading for this Easter day is Peter’s great kerygmatic speech on Pentecost morning. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter addresses the Jerusalem crowd, telling them the impossibly good news that Jesus of Nazareth, a man who moved through their ordinary towns and villages, has been raised from the dead. The Easter faith of the Church is not an abstraction, not a vague claim about God’s fidelity or our hope for immortality. Rather, it is the startling assertion that God has brought this man Jesus back from the dead. May we bask in the glow of this still surprising revelation.
There are some debunkers of religion around today who want us to believe that the story of the resurrection is just another iteration of the myth of the dying and rising god that can be found in many ancient cultures. Nothing could be further from the truth. A careful reading of the Easter accounts shows that they have to do with a very particular, historical individual and with a very particular, unrepeatable event.
The Church’s Easter proclamation is the strangest message ever delivered: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. His resurrection is not merely a symbolic statement about Christ’s historical importance or the affirmation that his cause goes on. Nor is the resurrection simply about some change in the the apostle’s minds in regards to Christ after his death. The resurrection is about the real body of Jesus.
Easter is the dawn of a new creation. St. John tells us that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early on the morning of the first day of the week. This is meant to call to mind the first day of creation, when God said, “Let there be light” and brought order out of chaos. From the meaninglessness of death, God brings eternal life. This is the central and revolutionary message of Easter.
In Matthew’s version of the Easter story, symbols of novelty and transformation abound: it is the first day of the week, light is dawning, a stone has been rolled back, the very earth shakes, and an angel, a bearer of light, comes and speaks a word of hope. Easter is the day when everything changed, when God’s mercy turned the world as we know it upside-down. We Christians are the proclaimers of this reversal.