Sunday, April 4
Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9
Happy Easter everyone! Today many family and friends are celebrating at the altar and the dinner table an event that occurred nearly two thousand years ago that changed the world. This event of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead marks the foundation of our Catholic faith, a proof God gives to the world of his existence, power and the final meaning of all things. God welcomes us home to dine with him in a spiritual banquet at the altar of his risen Son who is known to us in the Breaking of the Bread. Unlike any other religious or political movement, the Easter message of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ lays a powerful claim upon our personal lives and the world.
Move over Easter Bunny and Cadburry eggs... to begin to understand what we celebrate today and for the weeks ahead during the Easter Season, we must consider what happened to the radically changed lives of Christ’s first followers. Up to the coming of Jesus, the people of Israel were eagerly awaiting the coming Messiah promised by God through the prophets. The Messiah would set them free from their enemies, restore the Kingdom of David and reunite the lost tribes of Israel scattered by centuries of captivity and intermarriages. Some men claimed to be the Messiah and attempted political revolts against the Roman occupiers, but their movements would rise as quickly as they fell. Jesus appeared different from the rest. The Kingdom of King Jesus was not a political movement or a political revolution. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of David, an earthly kingdom pointed to something greater and eternal – the Kingdom of God that changes the hearts of men and women from the inside out. Having faith in Jesus the Son of Go will cause a change of heart that casts out our greatest enemy – the Satanic foe and will re-unite the lost tribes and people of all nations by being members of the one Body of Christ.
The people didn’t get it – they still thought that the Messiah would be an earthly king like David and Solomon. Their hopes for Jesus were crushed as he is sold out by one of his Apostles, arrested by soldiers and abandoned by most of his friends. As the Apostle Judas despaired and committed suicide, Jesus would be publicly executed, rejected by his own and crucified by the Roman enemies of Israel. As the body of Jesus succumbs to death, it appears that the curtains have closed, everything had utterly collapsed. In fact, the Apostles were so scared by the horrific sight of the crucifixion that they went into hiding behind locked doors out of fear that they would be next.
But on that First Easter Sunday, after being in the tomb for three days, the power of sin and death fails to prevail. God raised his Son bodily and victoriously as Lord of Life; death has no power over him. The Father of lies is conquered by him. With the nail marks still in his hands and feet he visits his frightened Apostles to renew them into right relationship with God.
None of the Apostles and early followers of Jesus became rich or powerful from sharing their eye-witness testimony about Jesus. To the contrary. In the face of rejection, poverty and horrific martyrdom not a single one of them ever said “oops, I was kidding!” No other event in human history carries the kind of weight and congruent testimony marked by the lives of so many eye-witnesses. Our faith rests on a sure foundation. What we celebrate today is the greatest event our world has ever seen. May you and I encounter Jesus Christ in a living faith, entrusting to him all that we are and have. He will change the trajectory of our lives in this world and in the world to come. My friends, Happy Easter - He is Risen, Alleluia!
Father Brian Campbell is a priest of the Diocese of Palm Beach