We ring dates on our calendar that are significant and important to us and our family. Birthdays, weddings anniversaries, and dates our loved ones died. This year some of you might have ringed the 12th April because it is when restaurants and pubs will be allowed to serve customers outdoors. Also non essential shops,
hairdressers and nail bars will also be opened. “It all depends on Data. Not dates” we are told.
But as disciples of Jesus, the date we will circle is this Sunday 4th April. For us this is the greatest feast of the year. It is the day that Christ rose from the dead. The day that Christ conquered death and gave us life without end.
I was quite moved by the what the Her majesty the Queen said last year at Easter in the midst of lockdown. She said that we need Easter more than ever in these times of Covid 19. “In church, one light would pass to another, spreading slowly and then more rapidly as more candles are lit. It’s a way of showing how the good news of Christ’s resurrection has been passed on from the first Easter by every generation until now.”
One of my favourite writers is Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk who died in 1968. He said that Easter is not sufficiently understood if we think of it only as a time when we affirm our belief that Jesus rose from the dead. “This celebration does not merely recall the act by which we were liberated, it revives our freedom itself, in the renewal of the mystery on high we become free. No longer will we rely on following the law to be free. It is Christ that has set us free through his death and resurrection. We now live by the Spirit of him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead and by that Spirit we “put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live.” (Romans 8:13).”
For the next fifty days of the Easter season we reflection on the implications of the Jesus bodily resurrection has for us. We believe that our lives are not heading for annihilation or oblivion but towards a glorious happy fulfilment beyond death. Jesus said: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14:3).
At the Easter vigil we blessed the new baptismal water. We will baptise Robert tomorrow at 10am Mass. This baptism is not a mere initiation ceremony into the Church community. It is a plunging into death, and a rising to new life. All those baptised at at Easter become a new creation. The resurrection of Jesus makes a difference to our lives today. We receive the gift of God’s love, freely and unmerited. There should be nothing any longer that keeps us in fear. We have been set free and God’s love has triumphed. Because of the resurrection the life of every human being has the potential of being transformed. We can experience renewal and new life because Jesus has conquered death. For us we celebrate Easter in springtime. Nature itself becomes a symbol of resurrection and renewal. The trees, flowers, shrubs and birdsong all proclaim for us new life, and victory over darkness and death. This applies to us who live in the northern hemisphere.
Here are some lovely words of a Greek hymn “Come ye Faithful”.
‘Tis the Spring of souls today:
Christ has burst his prison;
And from three days’ sleep in death,
As a sun hath risen.
All the winter of our sins,
Long and dark is flying
From his light, to whom we give
Laud and praise unending.
Our prayer this Easter is:
O God, who on this day, through your Only Begotten Son,
have conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity,
grant, we pray, that we who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection
may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit, rise up in the light of life.