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Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian liturgical calendar. The feast of all feasts. The night of all nights and the day of all days. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad” because the Lord is risen from the dead.
On this Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For us Catholics, Easter Sunday comes at the end of 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving known as Lent. Through spiritual struggle and self-denial, we have prepared ourselves to die spiritually with Christ on Good Friday, the day of His Crucifixion, so that we can rise again with Him in new life on Easter.
Easter is a day of celebration because it represents the fulfillment of our faith as Christians. St. Paul wrote that, unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:17). Without Christ risen from the dead we remain in our slavery to sin, we remain under the dominion and oppression of Satan and the evil ones, we remain blinded by ignorance, we remain alienated from God whose wrath awaits us on the day of judgment. Without Christ risen from the dead, there is no Church, there is no sacrament, there is no priest, there is no Mass, and there is no reason for us to gather today with great rejoicing and gladness.
Through his death, Christ saved mankind from bondage to sin, and He destroyed the hold that death has on all of us; but it is His Resurrection that gives us the promise of new life, both in this world and the next.
That new life began on Easter Sunday. In the Our Father, we pray that “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven.” And Christ told His disciples that some of them would not die until they saw the Kingdom of God “coming in power” (Mark 9:1). The early Christian Fathers saw Easter as the fulfillment of that promise. With the resurrection of Christ, God’s Kingdom is established on earth, in the form of the Church.
That is why people who are converting to Catholicism traditionally are baptized at the Easter Vigil service, which takes place on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter), starting sometime after sunset. They have usually undergone a long process of study and preparation known as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Their baptism parallels Christ’s own Death and Resurrection, as they die to sin and rise to new life in the Kingdom of God.
Because of the central importance of Easter to the Christian faith, the Catholic Church requires that all Catholics who have made their First Communion receive the Holy Eucharist sometime during the Easter season, which lasts through Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. (The Church also urges us to take part in the Sacrament of Confession before receiving this Easter communion.) This reception of the Eucharist is a visible sign of our faith and our participation in the Kingdom of God. Of course, we should receive Communion as frequently as possible; this “Easter Duty” is simply the minimum requirement set by the Church.
Allow me to end my homily with this story:
Patt Barnes came upon an old lady selling flowers on a busy city street.
Her face was old and wrinkled, but radiant with an Easter smile.
Patt took a flower, paid her, and said:
“How happy you are this morning.” The flower lady replied, “Why not? Everything is beautiful.” Patt was
startled by her reply, because she was dressed so shabbily and looked so frail.
Patt said: “You surely wear your troubles well!
Again, her reply startled Patt: “When Jesus died Good Friday,” she said, “that was the worst of days. Then, 3 days later–Easter! So when troubles come my way, I simply wait three days. Then and everything gets all right again.”
How do I handled my troubles?
How might I better handle them?
We are Easter people; and Alleluia is our song!
O Lord Jesus Christ, who upon this day did conquer death and rise from the dead, and who are alive for ever more, help us never to forget your Risen Presence forever with us.
Help us to remember,
That you are with us in every time of perplexity to guide and to direct;
That you are with us in every time of sorrow to comfort and console;
That you are with us in every time of temptation to strengthen and to inspire; That you are with us in every time of loneliness to cheer and befriend; That you are with us even in death to bring us to the glory of your side.
Make us to be certain that there is nothing in time or in eternity which can separate us from you,so that in your presence we may meet life with gallantry and death without fear.
You turn our darkness into light, in your light we shall see light.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. Christ the Lord is risen today!
— Adapted from ThisIsChurch.com