Easter Sunday: Alleluia, He is Risen!

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Today is the greatest of all days, the Sunday of all Sundays! Our faith culminates today with the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Depending on which Mass you attend, you may hear different readings, from the extensive narration of salvation history at the Easter Vigil Mass to the simple gospel passage of Mary Magdalene finding an empty tomb. Regardless of the the readings, however, the theme is the same. Jesus is risen from the dead! Alleluia, alleluia, truly he is risen!

Some of us may have had a fruitful Lent, characterized by powerful penitential practices that helped us grow closer to God. Others may show up to Easter Mass feeling like they’ve been caught unawares. Lent is supposed to be so long…how can it already be Easter Sunday? We may wake up on Easter Sunday feeling the joy and peace of Jesus’s resurrection after sharing in the passion and crucifixion of Good Friday and the quiet of his entombment on Holy Saturday. Or we may find ourselves scrambling to fill Easter baskets, dye eggs, choose dress clothes appropriate for the day, or even handle a family emergency.

Moreover, we may encounter the risen Lord with satisfaction that things are going right for us: family, career, friendships, faith. Or we may, instead, feel our brokenness as we try to summon the joy of Easter in the midst of exceptionally difficult circumstances such as unemployment, illness, estrangement, and ambivalence toward the Church.

Regardless of where we stand this Easter Sunday of 2024, the resurrection is the key to understanding our life in the context of a larger narrative. The Christian life is not about cause and effect, but about cross and resurrection. It is about God’s grace meeting us wherever we are in life, whether down in the dredges of suffering or high on the mountain in peaceful reflection. For all of human history that we see in the Old Testament, God’s people went astray, and God did his best to bring them back to himself. He led them out of Egypt, a land of foreign gods, he sent them prophets to warn them of their immorality, he allowed them to have a king and then suffer the consequences, and to experience captivity and the loss of their freedom. All of this was to teach the people that God is always the focal point of every life in every situation.

With Jesus, we have the ultimate pedagogy, which presents what all of the Old Testament had represented. God loves the people so much that he will send his only son, allowing him to live among them, love them, suffer for them, and even die for them when they reject God once again. Only this time, God secures the victory because the story does not end with death, but resurrection. It is the best kind of teaching moment because it is an embodiment that invites our own participation.

Today, wherever we find ourselves – in joy, in misery, in security, in distress, in faith, or in ambivalence – we are invited into this victory of the resurrection. We can all rejoice, knowing that we do not have to save ourselves. Jesus Christ is risen! Alleluia, alleluia, truly he is risen!

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