Pastoral Reflections

Easter Sunday – 2017

Happy Easter! There is breaking news! Jesus has risen from the dead! We hear all sorts of breaking news every day but there is one news item more important than all others – Jesus' resurrection. Yet we do not hear much about Jesus’ resurrection in any breaking news bulletins.

Jesus’ resurrection indeed is breaking news. And like any breaking news, when it happens, you hear about it for a few days or sometimes longer. But because Jesus’ resurrection is such big news, we celebrate it in a particular way over the next fifty days, from now until the celebration of Pentecost. We spend the next seven weeks unraveling the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection for our lives and the Church. We see Jesus’ resurrection commemorated by the Paschal Candle lit during every Mass throughout these next forty days until the feast of the Ascension.

During every Mass until Pentecost we will read a portion of the Acts of the Apostles, which elaborate on the impact of Jesus’ resurrection, spreading out its effects, as the Church grows and spreads. When you throw a stone into a pond, the ripples from the impact spread out, and during the next seven weeks we will see the impact of Jesus’ resurrection spreading out as we listen to excerpts of the Acts of the Apostles every day. In today’s selection (Acts 10:34a, 37-43) we heard Peter witnessing that he ate and drank with Jesus after he rose from the dead.

What really matters in life? Hopefully the answer for each of us is, having Jesus in our life is what is most important. Peter said in the selection we heard today from Acts that Jesus is the judge of the living and dead (Acts 10:42). So really, from that perspective, nothing else matters or should matter, but Jesus. We see the same point being made in our second reading (Col 3:1-4), advising us to only seek what is above, where Christ is seated.

We hear many proposals about life, many suggestions about how to live and conduct our lives. There are many ideologies all around us. Even in the early Church there were ideologies. We see one lingering ideology in Paul’s letters, as Paul had to convince people that circumcision was no longer necessary for salvation because it has been replaced by faith in Jesus.

There is but one answer about how we are to live our lives. There is one clear light shining in the darkness and that is the light of Jesus. There are partial answers to life all around, and many false and misleading answers, but there is only one answer that is the Truth, and that is Jesus, and his resurrection proves it.

Jesus is the only one who has ever risen. He is the only one with true answers to our questions about life and the meaning of life and how to live. Since no one else has risen, Jesus’ words are the most important words of all time in the whole world. So anyone looking for answers to questions about life and the meaning of life and what to do with one’s life ought to look to Jesus’ words for the answer.

The entire Bible is the word of God, but the four Gospels contain the words of Jesus, which is why we give the Gospels special importance. There are no other words in the world like the words of the Gospels.

I am sure that we have all at one time or another wondered what God thinks. There is a way to find out what God thinks. Read the words of Jesus. The words of Jesus come from his heavenly Father. The words of Jesus are the words of God. If you want to know what God thinks, you have to look no further than the Bible and especially the words of Jesus in the four Gospels.

Not only is Jesus’ resurrection the biggest breaking news of all time, news that we continue to celebrate specially for the next seven weeks. But if we also listen to Jesus, he answers the questions about life, so Jesus’ resurrection is only the beginning of our transformation.

Before his death, Jesus travelled in and around Galilee, but since his resurrection he is with us everywhere and in every time. The empty tomb in our Gospel today (John 20:1-9) tells us the body of Jesus was not there. Where was he? He appeared many times to his apostles and disciples during the days that followed. In the many daily readings, which follow today’s lessons, we can enjoy a different account of Jesus’ resurrection encounters with his followers.

One of the things Jesus taught after his resurrection is that the place to look for him is at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. On the road to Emmaus he walked with two disciples but they did not recognize him at first because his body was different after his resurrection. He explained the Scriptures to them and they only recognized him at the breaking of bread. The breaking of the bread is exactly what happens at every Mass. We listen to the Scriptures, they are reflected on, and then we meet Jesus in the Eucharist.

Not only does Jesus’ resurrection show that he is the true answer to all our questions, but the risen Jesus shows us that he continues to be present with us after his resurrection in the sacraments. If we want to meet Jesus, we can meet him in his sacraments. We became part of Jesus’ Church when we were baptized, he poured out the Holy Spirit on us once again when we were confirmed. He gave the apostles and their successors the authority to forgive sins, so if we desire forgiveness from Jesus, we can accomplish this through the sacrament of Penance. When we are ill, the priest anoints us with sacred oil and we meet Jesus. Jesus blessed the wedding at Cana by his presence and blesses those married in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Just as Jesus called twelve apostles out of all his disciples to be his first priests he continues to call out of all his disciples now to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders and be his priests.

The breaking news of the empty tomb in our Gospel today tells us the body of Jesus was not there. Where is he? He is in the Church and still with us, and we can meet him every time we receive his sacraments and every time we read his words - the most important words of the whole world - in the Gospels.

When we want answers, look to Jesus. Jesus is the only one who has risen. Listen to him.

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