REASONS FOR REJOICING

Easter Homily

When a family with a small child showed up at church on Easter Sunday, the little child wondered why all the decorations and flowers.  His mother explained that we were celebrating Jesus’ resurrection after he died on the cross.  The child exclaimed “Jesus died?”  Jesus died?”  When did that happen?  Why didn’t you tell me?  (Obviously, the child must have missed Palm Sunday)

At an Easter Sunday Mass in Church, a mother heard her five-year-old daughter singing joyfully “lasagna in the highest!”

A father told about his little four-year-old’s excitement over what the Easter bunny would bring on Easter.  The father asked what Easter was really about.  The very bright little boy answered: “Jesus died on the cross, so we can live with him in heaven someday.”  Then he added: “But I don’t want to die.”  The father said, “well everyone has to die at some point.”  The boy then replied: “Okay, but if there’s no TV in heaven, I’m leaving.”

But why are we here really? We are here to REJOICE! We rejoice because truth has triumphed over falsity, justice over injustice and goodness over evil. It is like watching a superhero movie. First you see an innocent and helpless victim being attacked, robbed, kidnapped, assaulted and tortured by a wicked assailant. And we feel so bad seeing the triumph of the bad guy. Then, almost at the point where the victim has given up hope and is at the point of death, down from the skies comes Batman to the rescue. He battles and defeats the bad guy and rescues the innocent victim. And we feel happy inside at the triumph of justice.

On the other hand, we hear a totally different story on Good Friday, which is the story of the triumph of falsity over truth, of injustice over justice, of evil over goodness. Jesus was falsely charged of crimes he did not commit, and unjustly sentenced to a death he did not deserve. His good friend betrayed him, his trusted companions deserted him and his number one man denied him. The people he loved demanded his crucifixion and chose to have the bandit Barabbas released in his place. It is a story of betrayal and lies, dishonesty and meanness, unfaithfulness and wicked violence directed against an innocent and apparently helpless victim. All this comes to a head on Good Friday when we see Jesus scourged, mocked, led on the death march, nailed to the cross where he dies after a few hours and hastily buried in a tomb. If that were the end of the story that would be a bad story, a tragedy. But glory be to God it is not.

Death is not the end of the story. There is one more very important chapter. In the last chapter of the story of Jesus we see him rise from the dead in all glory and majesty. His enemies are shamed and confused. He is the Lord who will prevail over all mankind. For us this is truly good news.

The significance of Easter reminds us that Holy week does not end on Good Friday nor does it end on Holy Saturday.  It ends in Easter Sunday commemorating His resurrection.  And even so it ends, it marks the beginning of a new life.  A life that we are called to live in faith and hope in the Risen Christ.  We may think that we have suffered so much and that our trials may seem unending but let us all remember that Christ suffered too.  He suffered and died but was able to conquer death by faith in the Father.

At the start of Holy Week we shouted, “Hosanna to the King!” An exclamation recognizing our dependence of Him which means “save me” in Greek; on Good Friday we joined the crowd saying “crucify him!” An exclamation condemning Christ to the cross. Today, we say “Hallelujah!” An exclamation of rejoicing where after acknowledging our sinfulness and so go back to Him as a renewed Christian.

On Easter Sunday, we are all called to look to the East, to the sunrise, to the start of an era in our lives, to the first spring of energy, to the first ray of hope, to the first song of joy, hallelujah! 

Happy Easter to one and all!

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