Easter Tuesday, 2020
I’d like to begin with four “What if…” questions.
1) What if… there was a heaven, but after the fall of Adam and Eve the gates were slammed shut. On earth, when somebody died, that was it. No hope of eternal joy with God. Death would have the final word. Thanks, Adam.
2) What if… there was no forgiveness of sins? Imagine how depressed Peter would have been if, after denying Christ, he were never forgiven for that, and could not return to being an apostle. He would be filled with regret for the rest of his life. What if for us there was no forgiveness for our sins? We mess up. We are stuck.
3) What if…all human suffering was in vain? Had no purpose. Was just a waste of time. A royal pain.
4) What if…there was no real purpose in living. We would just be born, go to school, go to work, have some joys and sorrows, and then die. There was no real purpose, no mission and no goal in life.
How terrible life would be if there was no hope of eternal life, no forgiveness, no purpose to suffering, and no purpose in living.
In the face of those “What if…” questions comes the Resurrection.
1) Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, death no longer has the last word. The gates of heaven are open, and we have hope of eternal joy with God. As St. Paul said to the Corinthians, “O death, where is your victory, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)
2) Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, there is forgiveness. Christ nailed our sins to the cross, and in his resurrection conquered the power of sin. So Peter and anyone who has sinned can be reconciled with God. In fact, God even helps us be sorry for our sins, so that we come to him for mercy. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
3) Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, all our suffering has tremendous purpose. We are baptized into the living Christ. Our suffering is his suffering, and he never suffers in vain. Somehow our pain is Christ’s pain and is intimately tied up in the salvation of the world.
4) And because Jesus died and rose from the dead, there is a sublime purpose to our lives. We are here so that the living Jesus can manifest himself through us, do his work through us and love through us. Our purpose is to be an instrument for God.
St Theresa said,
“Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.”
Whether we express it by raising a family, serving the poor, ministering as a priest, standing up for truth, working for justice, or simply setting a good example, our purpose is to be God’s instrument for whatever he wills. Our purpose is to say, with St. Paul, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”(Galatians 2:20) I love, no longer I, but Christ loves through me.
Hope for eternal life,
purpose in suffering,
purpose in living…
all because of the Resurrection of Christ.
St. Augustine stated that we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song. An Easter people are a grateful people. We know we are loved.
So, we gather around this altar, the best place to say “Thanks.”