By Bishop Joseph M. Siegel
This is the Good News we proclaim on Easter; and on this day, we celebrate that when Christ came forth from the tomb, salvation, forgiveness and hope burst forth for us as well. Throughout the history of salvation, from the fall of our first parents, God has worked to bring healing and redemption to his people. He revealed his salvific will for us most powerfully in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate in a special way during the Paschal Triduum.
Yet the death and resurrection of Christ are not just events in the past – they reach through history to touch us today. The risen Christ is alive and active in our world and our lives, here and now, in 2019. Sometimes we might wistfully ponder what it would have been like if we had lived in Jesus' time, to see him and hear him. However in our Easter faith, we do live in Jesus’ time – and he in ours. Because he is risen, he is not limited to Palestine of the first century – he is present throughout the world, in all times and places.
Easter is the day we celebrate that Christ’s resurrection reveals God’s desire for reconciliation and new life for us and for our broken world. While we believe that the Risen Christ makes all things new, we also know that our world, our Church and our lives are still marred by suffering, confusion, scandal and death. God works in and through our frail, sinful humanity, and so our journey to God is not a straight line forward. But it does mean that in every circumstance of life, from great joys all the way through the difficult struggles that inevitably lie before us, Christ is with us; and his light, rising in glory, will dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.
That first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb in sorrow. Peter and John ran to the tomb in confusion. Encountering the empty grave, they were forced to grapple with the incredible reality that Jesus had risen as he promised. We will come to Easter Mass in the midst of our own life stories and situations: some come in grief, having lost a loved one this year; some come in the midst of family or work difficulties; some come in confusion or anger, struggling with their faith; some come out of curiosity after a long absence. Yet we will all hear the same Good News – the tomb is empty – Christ is risen. We too have the opportunity to encounter the risen Lord – in his Word, in the Eucharist, the other sacraments and our personal prayer, in the community of the baptized gathered in his name, and in the faces of those in need. As we encounter him, he speaks to us those words of the first Easter – “Peace be with you” - and breathes upon us the gift of his Holy Spirit. If we open our hearts to him, he will touch us with his divine mercy and will walk us every moment of our lives until we see him face to face.
Like Mary Magdalene, we are sent forth this Easter to joyfully proclaim the Good News of the Resurrection in our homes, workplaces, schools and communities. May we allow the graces of this glorious day and season to change our lives and give us new purpose, new direction and new hope.