He is Risen!

Easter Sunday.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Happy Easter! Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!

The Resurrection of Christ is the central event in the history of the universe and in our own lives. It is a fact of cosmic proportions that brings all of creation to its fulfillment in God.

What we celebrate today is much more than the reanimation of a corpse. It is that, of course, but it is also the final, definitive and overwhelming manifestation of the love of God and His radical victory over the consequences of human rebelliousness against Him.

In the poetic words of the sequence prayed at Mass this Sunday, “Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.” Or, as St. Paul would proclaim in the First Letter to the Corinthians, Death is swallowed up in victory. The One who is life itself emerges victorious from the sepulcher.

The Resurrection of Christ has important consequences for our daily lives. First of all because it validates every single claim that the Lord makes about Himself, about God and every promise He has made to His Church. Everything that the Church is, everything she teaches, everything she proclaims both about Jesus and about our human nature is worthy of credence because of this historical fact. The man Jesus, who had been put to death in a certain place at a certain time, rose back to life on the third day to die no more. Therefore, His claim to be God, to be the way, the truth and life is credible on account of His Resurrection.

This event has an important human dimension too.

Because Jesus is fully human, his victory over death is also the victory of human nature. The very same nature present in us. Indeed, we share our humanity with the Lord and with every other human being. This vulnerable, frail condition given to us by God simply because we are men and women is now irrevocable united to divine nature and, furthermore, it has been rescued from the power of death, so that the horizon of our existence is eternity. The victory of one man over death is the victory of the entire human race!

The Resurrection of Christ powerfully proclaims that we are not beings unto death but unto eternal life. Our actions do not have a temporal, finite limit but have eternal consequences. The love and life of God is inextricably intertwined with human nature. The good or evil that we may do affects an intricate fabric knitted by God. Our human actions can strengthen our bonds of communion. They also have the power to weaken our communion and may even completely separate us.  They can never completely undo the works of the love of God, they can never deprive us of our common human nature made in His image and likeness, they can never overshadow the light of Christ, but do have the power to separate us from communion, even for all eternity.

The light emanating from the empty tomb, the radiance of the Resurrection illuminates our entire existence revealing the deepest meaning of the universe, of our lives, even of our death. God desires that there be communion between Him and His creation, especially between Him and those He created in His image and likeness. He goes to the extreme of embracing our humanity and accepting death to accomplish it. He does it all because He is love and He loves us. He is willing to endure excruciating pain, unfathomable suffering and even submit to the power of death, in an act of pure love. He does not overpower us by an ostentatious display of raw power, but places Himself at the bottom of the social ladder to conquer with the consuming fire of love.

In the face of such a radical and passionate love, one can only be overwhelmed. The momentous events we are celebrating with special intensity this week cannot leave us unfazed.

We are not celebrating some distant event in the past, we are entering into the mystery of the love of God that transports us into time and space to an eternal present where Christ submits to the power of death and raises victorious right before our very eyes. That is the deepest meaning of Mass, not just on this Easter Sunday, but every single time that it is celebrated and especially on Sundays. That is the reason why Holy Mass is so central to our lives and why the Church, our mother, knowing what is good for us, tells us to go to Mass every Sunday to be renewed by our participation in the Paschal Mystery.

Indeed, we encounter the Risen Christ daily, in our ordinary lives, in those whom we meet, especially those who are suffering. He is God and because of that He is present everywhere. However, when we come to Mass, not only we encounter all of His humanity and His divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the liturgical action makes us eyewitness and sacramentally present to the events unfolding in Jerusalem two thousand years ago.

May the encounter with the Risen Lord in the celebration of this Easter Sunday lead us all to renewed awareness of the significance of our humanity, of our Baptism and the events we celebrate!

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! Happy Easter!

Fr. Roberto M. Cid