Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
March 27, 2016

Fr. José Maria Cortex, F.S.C.B.

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Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord is truly risen!  Alleluia! Let us rejoice and be glad!

The fact of the Resurrection proclaims that every human being has a future. Our faith in Jesus’ Resurrection opens our hearts to hope and joy. The victorious Christ definitively fulfills our longing for eternal life, once and for all. Today, we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and despair.

How can we proclaim Christ’s victory in our confused world? This Holy Week, we were shocked and saddened by the Islamic State terrorist attack in Belgium that killed and injured so many people, sparking fear and insecurity throughout the world. In the wake of such events, evil can seem more powerful than good. How can we connect the traumatizing events in Belgium with the Resurrection of Christ? Which are stronger, hatred and violence or love and mercy? How can our faith bring us new light?

Today’s Gospel tells us that when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, “it was still dark” (Jn 20:1). The disciples were deeply distressed and confused by Jesus’ violent death. They had placed their hopes in him, which were now shattered. Nonetheless, while it was still dark, the stone had already been removed from the tomb. Who could ever have imagined what transpired between the moment of Jesus’ death on the Cross and the dawn of the first day of the week? The disciples were not only despondent but also afraid.  Mary Magdalene knocked on the door of the room in which they had locked themselves, to tell them that the stone had been removed from the tomb. Peter and John ran to see what had happened. When they entered the tomb, they saw that only the burial shroud remained and thus realized that an unimaginable event that had occurred!

In the first reading, the Apostle Peter proclaims the good news of the Resurrection. The fearful man who denied Jesus three times is now a bold witness to the most extraordinary event in human history: the death and Resurrection of Christ. Peter exclaims:  “We are witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead” (Act 10:41). The courageous apostle proclaiming these things has been completely transformed. He exudes joy. He is no longer afraid of those who can kill the body because they cannot kill the soul. Years later, he would joyfully sacrifice himself as a martyr.

What is the greatest proof of Jesus’ Resurrection? It is the gladness that abides in the hearts of those who have encountered him. The joy of the saints is the greatest sign that Jesus is alive. Though St. Deicolus did not have an easy life, he was known for the peace and joy that radiated from his soul and could be seen on his face. St. Columbanus once asked him: “Why are you always smiling?” St. Deicolus simply answered: “Because no one can take God from me.”

A few weeks ago, four of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity were killed in a terrorist attack on a nursing home in Yemen by Islamic extremists of ISIS. The terrorists set the sisters apart from everyone else after handcuffing the elderly and sick. Then they opened fire. Two of the nuns were Rwandan, one was Kenyan and one Indian. In their photographs, we see four women whose hearts are full of joy, in the certainty that no one could take God from them. When we look at their faces, when we think how they gave their lives as an act of love, we think about the Resurrection. The sisters are proof that the power of love surpasses evil.

In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells the Colossians: “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.” In the confused times we live in, not only because of terrorism but also for so many other reasons, we need to seek what is above, what endures and gives our lives true meaning. Otherwise, we become skeptical and disillusioned with life.

Let us pray. May the celebration of Easter renew our faith. May we experience the victory of Christ. May the light of the Resurrection conquer all the darkness within and around us. May our personal encounter with the Risen Lord open our hearts to hope and joy. The Lord is truly risen! Alleluia! Let us rejoice and be glad!


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