Sunday, April 8, 2012

Something New

Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-9

As I sat in silence gazing upon the Cross after the Good Friday Liturgy two night ago, I found myself asking what seemed to me a foolish question: Why do we look forward to Easter so much? Letting this question come up over and over in my mind, I began to reflect on what Easter is, what it means for the Church, the celebrations that are part of it and a whole variety of topics that I was hoping would lead me in the direction of a homily for today. In the midst of all these things going on in my mind, a woman stood up and quietly ascended the sanctuary steps and approached the Cross. She knelt down, holding on to the Cross, and prayed for a couple of minutes. As I saw this woman literally coming to the foot of the Cross with what I assume were the crosses she herself has been asked to bear, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the liturgy we had just celebrated where all of us came forward to reverence the Cross, each in his or her own way. A genuflection, a gentle touch by one’s hand, a kiss. I could see by the look on people’s faces that they each had their own crosses and sought consolation in the Cross that Jesus bore. Here I began to understand the beauty and power of the Easter celebration.

All of us experience suffering in our lives. The Resurrection of Christ puts that suffering into context.

When Peter enters the empty tomb and finds the burial cloths lying there, something changed in his heart. The description of the burial cloths seems to indicate, especially in the original Greek, that the scene was not like that of Lazarus, who was revived from the dead and then needed to be unwrapped. The burials cloths of Christ lay in the same place that He was laid to rest. Rather than having to unroll the cloths, it seems that the Lord Jesus simply passed through them as He would later pass through the locked door and greet the Apostles. As Peter looked at the cloths lying there where they were to start with, it seems that he then realized that something entirely new was taking place; something they were still trying to grasp.

The Resurrection of Christ from the dead shows us that God not only takes things and makes them better. He makes them wholly new. He transforms them and elevates them to a whole new reality. We who were once simply creatures made by a Creator are now sons and daughters of God the Father. Though once bound by sin, we now have freedom through the sacraments of baptism, Eucharist and reconciliation. And most incredible of all, we who are deserving of eternal death are given by Christ the promise of eternal life if we simply follow in His ways.

Yes, Heaven will be even greater than this...
To us on Earth, Heaven is a reality that brings such great joy to the soul who contemplates it. And yet we know that even these thoughts fall infinitely short of the glory that awaits us. So as we rejoice today in the great mystery of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, let us be mindful of the words of St. Paul and think not of earthly things, but rather of heavenly things, as we eagerly wait in hope for that day when we too are joined with that Resurrected Christ for all eternity in that place where all things are made new.