Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

EASTER SUNDAY: THE FEAST OF ALL FEASTS

Jn 20: 1-9


POPE SAINT LEO the Great calls Easter as the greatest feast (festum festorum), and that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. And in some European countries, like Italy, this has been the case. I have observed there that Easter is being celebrated more meaningfully than Christmas. Giving more meaning to Easter celebrations is but right because Easter is the greatest feast of the Church. We remember the rising of Jesus from the dead, which is a cause for a great celebration.

What is Easter then for us?

Firstly, Easter is a celebration of faith. The gospel suggests how important faith is in understanding the resurrection of Christ. There are three disciples mentioned in the gospel passage, namely, Mary of Magdala, Peter, and the disciple whom Jesus loved (who is to be interpreted as John). The three became first witnesses to the empty tomb, but they had different reactions when they saw it. Mary surmised that the body of Jesus was taken and was put somewhere. Her faith has not grown yet. Peter did not show any judgment of what he saw. But John had a praiseworthy reaction. Why? Because when he saw the empty tomb, “he believed.”

The empty tomb is the object of our faith. Our faith in the resurrection of Jesus is directed at the empty tomb. We don’t need our bodily eyes because these could not understand the event. We should use another set of eyes. We should look at the empty tomb through the eyes of faith, so that we could see more clearly the meaning of Christ’s rising for us. Often our faith can be compared to that of Mary of Magdala. It is not yet a grown or mature faith. But faith is a process. The Mary of Magdala in us should be transformed into John. In other words, we must believe and strengthen our faith in Christ who has been raised by God from the dead.

Secondly, Easter is a celebration of joy. The responsorial psalm captures the feeling: “This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad.” This joy has its basis on the new life that Christ has offered us through his resurrection. We have a share in that new life. It can be seen as a gift for us from the risen Lord. But it is also a task. St Paul emphasizes that in the second reading. He says that we should “celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Easter could have no meaning for us if we nevertheless cling to the old sinful life. Easter is about new life; a new life in Christ.

Thirdly, Easter reminds us of our calling as “witnesses” of Christ. This is the tone of the preaching of Peter in the first reading. He says, “We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem”. The witnessing of the disciples of Jesus is witnessing par excellence because they really witness to what they had seen and heard. Our kind of witnessing may be different. The resurrection of Christ has an effect to our life. We have been transformed by Christ. As an Easter people, we can be bringers of hope for others. We share in the risen life of Christ. By that, we live and exist for love and for the truth.

This is the meaning of Easter. With the resurrection of Christ, God has renewed our life totally from within because the Spirit of the Risen Christ lives in us. AMEN.

HAPPY EASTER, everyone!


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