first day of the week,
Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
was still dark,
the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran
and went to Simon Peter
and to the
other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
taken the Lord from the tomb,
don’t know where they put him.”
and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
arrived at the tomb first;
down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
Peter arrived after him,
he went into
the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
cloth that had covered his head,
the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
other disciple also went in,
who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw
did not yet understand the Scripture
had to rise from the dead.
“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
Are we happy?
Are we glad? Are we
rejoicing? But why are we rejoicing and
why are we glad?
We come here every Sunday to praise God, to worship
him, and to thank God for all that he has done for us. We come here today, hopefully asking for the
wisdom to appreciate and realize what he really did for us when he died on the
cross and rose today.
To understand this we need to understand first who God
is. God, by definition, is love. And we, by definition, were made to know him,
to love him, and to serve him. Which
means if we want to be fulfilled, he needs to be a part of who we are.
Now God so loved us that he created our universe and
he created man. He created Adam and Eve
and he put them in a paradise which was so wonderful that we cannot even
imagine what it was like. There was no
sin, there was no death, and there was no sorrow.
There was only happiness. But you know God so loved us that he gave us
free will. So we do not have to choose
him. As we know, Adam and Eve committed
the sin of pride. And because of that we
were separated from God, which means that sin was now brought into the world
and death was now brought into the world, and God was not pleased.
God loves us.
He wants us to be happy. He wants us to be whole. So what did God do? He decided to send his only son into the
world to show us how to live and to suffer and die for us to make things
right. So during the Triduum — Holy
Thursday, Good Friday and Saturday, and Easter Sunday — we celebrate that
victory that Jesus gave us.
On Holy Thursday, like any good father who is ready to
leave the earth, Jesus was making sure that things are right. Throughout Jesus’s life he was always wanting
to make things right. He always wanted
to make people whole. If he knew someone
was sick he cured that person. If
someone was possessed, he took away the demons.
It didn’t make any difference who you were or when it was, he did what
was right because he loved us. That’s
the way he was.
On Holy Thursday he
took the disciples and went into the Upper Room to celebrate
Passover. But before they ate that meal
he said to the disciples, “Take off your
sandals.” He then, one by one, washed
their feet, which is the lowliest thing a person can do, and the most humble
thing a person can do.
When he was finished he looked at them and said, “If I’m your Master and Teacher and I can
wash your feet, then it’s up to you to wash everyone else’s feet.” Which means that we are to serve one another,
to help one another, and to make Christ present in the world when he is gone.
He then instituted the Eucharist so we can receive his
real body and blood every time we come to Mass. When we come to Mass on Sunday
not only can we praise him, but we can receive him and are ready for the rest
of the week so we can live out the week serving others like we need to do.
Then on Good Friday he suffered and died on that
cross. He died on that cross totally out
of love for us so that sin could be taken away, so that death could be taken
away, so that we could be made whole.
Today we celebrate Easter Sunday. If we had Holy
Thursday, and Good Friday and we had no resurrection, we really wouldn’t have
much except a holy man who did a lot of really good things. So when the women went to the tomb and found
it empty they were concerned. Did
somebody steal him, or was he raised from the dead?
As we know from the different accounts of the
Scripture the angel was there and the angel said, “If you are looking for Jesus
the crucified, he has been raised from the dead.”
Then later on Jesus appears to the disciples and they
know he is alive.
Now we have the total picture. We have the picture that this Jesus who came
into this world, wasn’t just a man but truly was, and is, the Son of God. And because of that we now have life
forever. We have life for eternity.
This crucifix, which could have been just a horrible
thing, now shows us victory. Two
thousand years ago if we would show a crucifix to someone they would say, “Oh,
no.” When we look at this crucifix we
don’t say, “Oh, no.” We say,
There is a story about a little boy standing in the
middle of the block on the curb. This
older man came with his dog, and the man asked the boy, “What are you doing?”
The little boy answered, “I am waiting for the bus.”
The man said,
“Well, if you are waiting for the bus, you need to go to the corner
because the bus stops at the corner. It
doesn’t stop in between.”
The little boy didn’t say anything. So the man tried to be as helpful as he could
and continued to tell the little boy what to do. Finally the little boy said, “It’s OK.
The bus is going to stop here and pick me up.”
Well, the man didn’t believe that so he decided to
stick around. So sure enough here comes
the bus, and to his surprise, the bus stopped in front of the boy, and the boy
got on the bus. Then the boy turned
around and looked at the man, “I told
you the bus would pick me up here. You
know, the bus driver is my dad.”
In that story, we are the little boy. God is the bus driver. And that bus driver will pick us up anywhere. He’ll pick us up in the middle of the block,
he’ll pick us up on the corner, he’ll pick us up in the alley. He’ll pick us up if it’s raining, if it’s
light, or if it’s dark.
We come here to celebrate today Christ’s victory for
us. We are now an Easter people.
It is because of us being baptized in that water that
we now can rise with him.
Sometimes we really don’t believe as much as we need
to until we have an experience of death — the death of a loved one or the loss
of something important. It’s then that
we realize how important our faith really is because we know that this person
we loved and cared about just isn’t anywhere, but because of Christ’s death and
resurrection is now in heaven so that we can be with that person some day.
So today we come as an Easter people. We come as a hopeful people. We come as a people knowing we have a God who
loves us, who wants to be with us, and is always asking us to be at our side.
So yes, this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice, and let us be glad.
* * *
Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon
at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.