HOMILY FOR EASTER SUNDAY YEAR A.
THEME: Fire! Water! Bread!
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches.
Mary Magdalene was hurting all over. She has experienced the healing and liberating love of Jesus; she discovered the joy and meaning of life. And now, everything is gone. Her Master is buried in the tomb. Early in the morning on the first day of the week, she went to the tomb expecting to see a dead body. And she was all the more devastated to discover that the tomb was empty. She thought someone took the body of the Lord away! Her sorrow was turned to resentment and indignation. Even the dead body is gone! Now she is left with nothing.
But something happened in an instant. When she bent over into the tomb, she saw two angels. And when she turned around, she saw Jesus standing there. All of a sudden, everything changed. Jesus was not dead after all. He is alive! That explains the empty tomb. He cannot be subject to corruption. The tomb has no power to hold him. With finality, He has conquered sin and death. For, indeed, He is true God. He is our true Savior. And so, we say, “Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world.”
Today, on this first day of the week, the Day of the Lord, let us be united with the entire Christian world in this joyful celebration. Jesus is alive! His victory is our victory. His glory is our glory! But what does His resurrection mean for us today? What is the meaning and significance of our celebration and rejoicing?
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Let me point out three elements in the Liturgy of Easter. Last night, during the Easter Vigil, we started with the blessing of fire and the lighting of the Paschal Candle. The church was dark. The Paschal Candle, representing Christ as the Light of the world, was brought in, and as each one lighted their candles, the darkness gradually vanished, and the church was filled with warm and radiant light. That is the clear message of the resurrection of the Lord. Darkness is never final. In those times when we experience seeming defeat and deep sorrow like Mary Magdalene, our faith reminds us that there is always hope for a new tomorrow, because the dawn of salvation, Jesus, is with us. We have a living and victorious God, and He works in mysterious ways. He can write straight with crooked lines, we say.
There is a story about a blind man. He sat on the sidewalk every day, asking for alms. His sign reads: “Help me. I am blind.” People passing by vaguely noticed him. Then one day, a Good Samaritan took pity on him, and did something with his sign. It caught the people’s attention, and donations came flowing in. It was because the sign now reads: “It’s a beautiful day! And I can’t see it!”
Even the blind man knows there is light out there. Resurrection means light overcoming darkness. This realization should change our outlook in life. This is what St. Paul told the Colossians in the first reading: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth” (Col. 3:1-2).
The next part of the liturgy was the blessing of water and the celebration of the sacrament of baptism. Not only was the darkness driven away, but also our sins are washed away by the living waters of baptism. The resurrection of Jesus reminds us of the new life we received in baptism. That is why, during this Easter Mass, we renew our baptismal promises and holy water is sprinkled upon us as reminder of our baptism that gave us new life. We ought, therefore, to ask ourselves: how is my life now as a Christian? Have I been faithful to my promises in baptism?
During the Holy Week, many of us have experienced peace and inner joy as we received God’s forgiveness and mercy in Confession. But going to Confession should not just be an annual affair. We are called to commit ourselves continually to a new life of grace. Resurrection means new life – now and for always!
Third, the liturgy reached its fitting climax in the celebration of the Eucharist. Being reborn in the waters of baptism is not enough. Something has to sustain us in the life of faith. And that is the Eucharist. Jesus is telling us: “If you want to have life in me; if you want to attain divine life, then come and eat me.” This is what I call “reverse metabolism.” When we eat food, our digestive system breaks down the food particles, and they become part of our body. That is regular metabolism. But in the Eucharist, “reverse metabolism” happens. When we receive Holy Communion, we do not have the power to transform the Body of Christ. Instead, we are the ones being transformed by the Eucharist that we receive. We become like Jesus, for we are made to share in His divine life. And Jesus made that promise: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54). The Eucharist assures our resurrection. This is why Pope St. Pius X said: “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.”
On this first day of the week, let our hearts jump for joy. Jesus is risen, and this means a lot for us. In the darkness of sorrow and pain, we have light. In our struggle against sins and human frailty, we are cleansed, strengthened, and renewed. And in the face of death, we have the assurance of resurrection and eternal life.
Happy Easter to all!
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches
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