Our greatest joy is what we celebrate today. Christ is risen, and all the world is changed. In original sin, our first ancestors turned away from God. In choosing sin, they chose a world of struggle and pain instead of the joy that God had intended for us. Yet God would never give up on His people. He formed the Jewish nation as the Chosen People, that He might prepare to send a Savior. Christ came to bring us the Father’s love, even when His ministry led to His death on the cross. All of that history was meant to lead to this day, when our humanity is refashioned in the image of Christ risen from the dead. God’s plan is fulfilled. By our baptism, we share in Christ’s new life, and everything that has led to this point is worthwhile.
Most likely, none of us coming to church on Easter Sunday doing an imitation of Bill Mazeroski’s home run trot. Yet our joy on this day is far beyond anything else we can experience. We express our Easter joy in various ways. We may dress up in our best clothes, even if a new Easter bonnet is perhaps no longer fashionable. If we have given up candy or chocolate or some other pleasure during Lent, we celebrate by breaking our fast. And once in church, we notice a big difference from our season of Lent. During Lent, we had no flowers or other festive decorations in church. Now we are as festive as we can be. During Lent our music was more somber, but on Easter we sing “Alleluia” for the first time since before Ash Wednesday. As St. Augustine told us, “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”
For many of us, the end of Lent signifies relief more than joy. We are happy to have the penance over with so we can get back to normal. I hope instead that we can look at this Easter as the culmination of all that God has called us to share. Easter is not just about Jesus’ resurrection; it is also a celebration of our baptism, by which we share that new life. Everything we do throughout our lives is something that can expres-s the grace Christ has given us. In that way, today’s feast is a reminder of the glory that we will share with our Risen Lord for all eternity. Even our Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies become a reminder to us that this is the feast of our victory.
In the joy of this day, I take this time to thank all those who have contributed to our celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. To all who have contributed to our liturgies, and to all who have helped make this a joyful time in other ways as well, I offer my gratitude. In addition, I offer you my wish (and I speak on behalf of Fr. Russell) for a blessed and joyous Easter. May God bless you.