Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord

Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church.  It marks the birthday of our eternal hope.  Indeed, the Resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian faith.  St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins… But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15:14, 17, 20).

Without the Resurrection, Jesus would have remained forever a good person who had met a tragic end.  People might remember some of his teachings, and a handful of people might try to live according to them.  The reality is that all the basic doctrines of Christianity are founded on the truth of the Resurrection.

Christian joy, the joy of Easter, is offered to the world not to guarantee a permanently happy society, – a society free from tension, pain or disappointment, but to affirm that whatever happens in an unpredictable world there is a deeper level of reality, a new creation that is a sort of world within the world, where love and reconciliation are ceaselessly at work, a world with which contact can be made so that we are able to live honestly and courageously with the challenges constantly thrown at us.  Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows, and tears.  It reminds us that life is worth living.

What was it like those first few hours after the empty tomb had been found, after Mary Magdalene had delivered her breathless message?  It must have been a period of alarming doubt, half hope, half terror.  One of the things that makes the stories of the first Easter so believable is just that sense of unexpectedness – the disciples don’t come to the empty tomb and say, ‘Well, there you go; just like he always said.’  No, they arrive and find themselves in a new world.  And into that newness steps a person before whose face the questions fade away and joy arrives, irresistibly.! 

The message of Easter is not so easily domesticated as Christmas and other feast days.  There is something wild about Easter – a message that is untamed, difficult to be watered down or manipulated for one’s own purposes.   What makes the joy of Easter resist domestication?  The wounds.  The scars.  These keep our faith from being a naïve fantasy about “pie in the sky in the great By and By”.   The resurrected body of Jesus bore the scars from nail and spear, and these scars identified the Risen One to his followers.  And yet, the wounds of Jesus took on new significance in light of his resurrection.  While reminders of the violence of crucifixion his wound-marked resurrected body demonstrated God’s power over evil and death.  His wounds reveal something else; that God’s work of resurrection—indeed God’s new creation —begins in our wounded world.  Jesus’ resurrection is not a disembodied spiritual reality for life after the grave. 

The Resurrection of Christ is central to our faith and gives profound value to how we view, and what we do in, this world.  The struggle for justice and mercy, the creation of beauty and the celebration of truth, acts of love, and the establishment of communities of kindness and forgiveness — all these all matter, and they matter forever.  Take away the Resurrection, and these things are important for the present but irrelevant for the future and hence not all that important after all even now.

Indeed, Paul’s great exposition on the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15 ends by reminding the Corinthians, “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”  The Resurrection reveals that cynicism, despair, and death, do not have the final word — either for human beings or for God’s creation.  God’s last word is resurrection in the midst of our human, often-wounded lives now.

We no longer look for Jesus among the dead, in fairy tales or comforting fables, for Christ is risen, wounded yet glorious. 

The belief in the Resurrection brings us to Mass each Sunday and while some people still dispute the facts, we, Resurrection people that we are, use them to profess with confidence the two words that shape our lives: “I believe.”


Adult Formation