This is our holiest day. For us, the estimated 2.3 billion Christians throughout the world — roughly half of which are Catholics — this is our holiest of days.
If it were not for Christ’s resurrection, our faith would be meaningless. We would be the followers of a wise man, a great teacher, perhaps even a wonder-worker… but none of that warrants a life of faith. Resurrection does. Resurrection does because even if you were one of those followers of Christ like the beloved disciple who raced to the tomb, even if you had no creeds and no theology and no benefit of two thousand years of a community reflecting and contemplating the meaning of resurrection… you would still know one thing, that a dead man has been raised not just to life but to a new and glorious life. Death was the punishment for sin. When God made creation humanity lived in that original paradise and there was no death. That was His intent. But in our free will, humanity sinned… we turned creation away from what God intended and death was the result. Nevertheless, God is God, and creation cannot forever stray from what He intends… and astoundingly, He promised that humanity would take part in that restoration. If someone has been raised from the dead to a newness of life, if someone is not held bound by sin and has conquered death, then the world has begun to be returned to what it was always meant to be. This is what warrants a life of faith.
When John wrote his gospel, he took the beloved disciple and made him into a symbol of all of us, the community encountering Christ through the gospel message. The gospel says two important things about that disciple that I think is true for us as well: seeing the empty tomb he believed, and he did not yet understand the resurrection. We don’t have the privilege of seeing that empty tomb, but we have come to experience Christ and his life still present in our lives, and so we too believe. Our hearts yearn for something more. By our basic humanity, we know that life is supposed to be something greater than anything this world can offer us\dots\ and as we stumble through life trying to fill that yearning, at some point we have come to recognize that the yearning within us is the desire to be in the presence of God. By our Baptism, by our Confirmation, and especially by our sharing of this Eucharist Sunday after Sunday, we begin to glimpse the fulfillment of that desire as we find ourselves in the presence of Christ. Rather than an empty tomb, we know that Jesus lives because he has begun to fill the emptiness of our hearts.
But at the same time, we don’t fully understand. Every mass, right after the consecration when the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, truly here present… right at that moment I say “the mystery of faith” and your response – whichever one of the three is used – always proclaims the death and resurrection of Christ that has saved the world from sin. This is the mystery of faith: that Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection has put an end to sin and death. We know it in our hearts and we proclaim it on our lips, and yet we still call it a mystery, something exciting and new that we are still learning to understand.
Our faith is that we are the blessed ones, the ones who know our salvation to be won and who eagerly await its fulfillment when Christ returns. So on this holiest of days, let us wonder at our salvation and give thanks for knowing that indeed, Christ is truly risen.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.