Readings: See the readings at usccb.org (Yup, there were 8 readings + the gospel. It was awesome.)
I spoke on Good Friday about how God recognized the plight of his people. And God hatched a rescue plan for humanity to save his people from sin and to save them from death. God chose to reach out.
Now, we heard so much of that story of God reaching out to his people tonight, didn’t we? A few readings… a reading or eight. We heard about God creating the world, in love, over a process of time. Lovingly he created this universe and everything was good. And when human beings come upon the scene — and did you notice the little switch in language there? He creates human beings, and then he looks upon everything, and it was very good.
But then we know that humanity sinned. So we heard about how God chose a people. Abraham, as the father of this beloved people, who entered into covenant with God. And even there we see some foreshadowing taking place. Abraham did not have give up his son, his only son, but in the fullness of time God would give us his Son, his only Son.
We heard how God rescued his special people from slavery through water, foreshadowing him rescuing us from the slavery of sin and death, again through water.
We heard prophecies of how God wants our relationship with him to be. He talks about a love relationship between us and himself, using marriage as the metaphor. He has compassion when his people go astray. He cries out: everyone who thirsts for this love, come to the waters! Come to him, here; eat and drink! Come to him for true, eternal wisdom! I am about to act, he tells us through Ezekiel. You who are mired in sin and death, I will give you — I’ll give you! — a new heart and a new spirit. You shall be my people and I shall be your God.
And in the fullness of time, this plan came to fruition. Jesus, our God, the Father’s only Son, entered into the human realm. And he poured out his life for his people, for you and me.
TONIGHT, we have come to the fulfillment of all our hopes and all of our dreams. Now, a human race that cowered away in sin and trembled before death is redeemed. Sin is vanquished. Death is destroyed. JESUS HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! And in him, we also rise from the dead! Do you get it?! This is a day of victory! This is a tremendous day of victory!
Let’s not forget how shocking this day is! It says in the gospel that the women were terrified and what they saw. It says that Peter, in the understatement of history, was amazed. I should say so!
The fact of the resurrection, the fact of the empty tomb: it utterly changed the life of Peter, and of the women, and of the disciples, and of so many witnesses who saw Jesus alive. It continues to change lives today. Even today, martyrs give their lives for Jesus, who rose from the dead. Even today, parents hand on this message of wonder to their children. Even today, people encounter forgiveness of sins and a promise of resurrection.
And this evening, we have the wonderful blessing of witnessing the entrance into the life of Christ through water and the Holy Spirit of these our Elect, and of confirmation and first Communion for our Candidates. Thank you for your witness of following Jesus Christ where he has lead you. Your yes blesses us more than you know. God is good. He continues to change lives even today.
I know for myself, this fact was was driven home for me in a powerful way a couple of months ago. I was blessed to be part of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and especially blessed to be able to celebrate Mass at The. Tomb. Yes, That. Tomb. Christians have honoured that site since early days and today a church is built over the site of Golgotha and the tomb. And I can tell you, that encounter with the empty tomb, that encounter with the deafening silence of that now empty piece of stone — it affected me deeply; I’m still processing this. It says that Peter was amazed. I now see a glimpse of what that meant. Jesus has risen from the dead. The tomb is truly empty! And we can live forever.
The same Jesus who rose from the dead at that tomb is here today. The same risen Lord who changed the lives of his disciples can change our lives. We do not have to die forever. We are made to live forever, through him who rose from the dead. Nothing can be the same as it once was. We literally owe him our lives.
Let us pray:
Thank you, Jesus.
You created us in love
and in love you carried out your plan of redemption.
You’ve risen from the dead.
You’ve destroyed sin and death.
Fulfill your promise of life in me,
and in all of these, your holy people,
and in all of their loved ones.
May we live always for you who died and who lives for us all.