When Adam and Eve turned from God they turned also from their own inner self as well as from each other. We could say they found themselves in dis-grace. Their destiny to return to God could now no longer be accomplished. They, and we, were doomed to live in a profound inner frustration which could never be resolved; made for union with God it was now no longer possible to reach him – ever.
The story of Adam and Eve’s rejection of God was repeated many times throughout history. Every time God made overtures of love towards us we, so to speak, ran away:
… the more I called to them, the further they went from me (Hosea 11:2).
The correct word for this running away from God is sin. It started with Adam and Eve and it continues to this present day, in fact, it’s everywhere. And strangely, as Lent made clear, just as, humanly speaking, the desperate awfulness of the Cross makes sense only when we realize that its victim is totally innocent, so too the ecstasy of Easter makes sense only if we remember that we are sinners.
If on every page Sacred Scripture reveals the incomprehensible love of God for his people, it also reveals their determined and reprehensible refusal to respond.
Awareness of sin doesn’t put a damper on the joy of Easter, it is part of its essential glory, the very foundation of its victory. Those of us who suffer from the modern reluctance, even refusal, to allow the reality of sin onto the stage of the human drama, will inevitably find that their celebration of Easter is reduced either to a vague and impoverished notion of ‘poor Jesus on the Cross’, or to a hunt for chocolate eggs with the children and a big sleep in the afternoon.
Easter is all about what God should have done to us sinners but didn’t.
What do you do with a dog who, despite your best efforts, refuses to obey you? Who even bites you? What do you do with a fruit tree that won’t bear fruit? What would you expect God to do with a people who, century after century, continue to defy him to his face? What would you have done?
Easter is about what God should have done to us sinners but didn’t.
We might put the dog down or pull the fruit tree out by the roots but God says: My heart recoils from it, my whole being trembles at the thought. I will not give rein to my fierce anger … for I am God, not man: I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy (Hosea 11:8-9).
And so God himself, the heavenly Father, sent to us a man called Jesus born of a woman named Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. This man came to do the will of God his Father and to give him the loving obedience we refused him.
All that God had been looking for in the human race he finally found in Jesus; and finding it in Jesus he found it in mankind. Finally God’s yearning for a true relationship with his people was satisfied.
We killed Jesus; the most loathsome expression of our sinfulness. The passion and death of Jesus were the ‘test’ God had in store for him and we were the ones who put him to that test. God was taking our own evil and making it a part of his plan, to show us how much He loved us, how much we are worth in his eyes.
For us Christians, Easter Sunday is a day of joy. It is a day of joy because of the new life that we have received in Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. It is a day of joy because we have new brothers and sisters in Christ who have come home by receiving the Sacraments for the first time. It is a day of joy because it is the time of the year when many, after having been absent for some time, return to Jesus through the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist. It is a day of joy when in the perfect unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, all the saints and angels of Heaven rejoice with us because “The Lord has risen indeed.” [Lk. 24:34]
In today’s first reading, Peter finished by stating that all the prophets of the Old Testament spoke about the coming of Jesus. In their inspired writings, they testified that those who would believe in Jesus would receive the forgiveness of sin through His Most Holy Name. As the Holy Bible tells us elsewhere, Jesus gave the authority to forgive sins in His Name to His disciples. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
During today’s Second Reading that was taken from the Letter of Paul to the Colossians, we heard that if we have been raised with Christ, we should seek the things that are from above where Christ dwells in Heaven. We should set our minds on spiritual things, not on worldly things.
Having been born again through the Church Sacrament of Baptism, we are obligated to God to feed our souls with spiritual things. We are called to spiritually grow in shining virtues and in the fruit of the Holy Spirit so that we may gradually be transformed by the grace of God the Father to become more in the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ.
For many, their participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass on Easter Day is a stepping-stone towards returning to their living faith. It is a sincere resolution… but it must not end there.
Jesus is the Lord of all! And we all need Him! On a regular basis, we need to receive the Sacrament of Confession that Jesus has instituted on earth through the apostles for the forgiveness of our sins. We need to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that Jesus has instituted on earth through the apostles as our assurance of salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the Living Bread that feeds our souls once we have been reinstated in a state of grace after having received the Sacrament of Confession.
During today’s reading of the Holy Gospel, we heard how Mary Magdalene needed Jesus. She wept when she realized that His body was gone, believing that someone had stolen it. She wept because she missed the Divine presence of Jesus. She missed that inner burning desire to be near the living body of Jesus, to follow Him, to hear Him, to feel loved, to be understood and to be forgiven of sins.
All the disciples of Jesus felt that way. That is why they reacted the way they did when they heard some saying that Jesus was no longer in His tomb, that He had resurrected, or that He was appearing here and there to different disciples.
The word, “Jesus is alive!” or “I have seen the Lord!” were enough to instantly create a great spiritual hunger in the soul of the disciples of Jesus where emptiness existed because of His death. The worldly minds of the disciples suddenly became alerted to the truth. Through these words, there was a new hope. Faith was being reinstated in the Words that Jesus had spoken while He lived on earth.
Jesus is the Lord of all! It is the will of God that we all experience spiritual hunger for the Divine presence of the Lord Jesus. It is the will of God that Jesus feed our spiritual hunger so like Mary Magdalene and the disciples, we will never want to leave His Divine presence.
When we set our minds on Jesus, we do what is spiritual. While we are in this world, we are not of this world. Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, we have become new creations of the godly seed, called to obey and serve the Lord Jesus in all righteousness.
When you go home today, think of the words, “Jesus is alive!” Think of the words, “Jesus is the Lord of all!” He is your Lord as much as He is my Lord and the Lord of all the others, those who are present and those who are not. Remember that spiritual hunger that you experienced so many times in your life, during those moments when you desired that the Lord Jesus could be so close to you… and He came close to you. You felt His warmth, His joy and His peace.
Awaken your spirits so you may relive those moments, not only for a day or two, but for every day of your life until you appear before the Lord Jesus in person. While you are in this world, be of above. For Jesus is the Lord of all and by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, He can once more ignite your hearts with a burning hunger that will draw you to Him.