Risen in the Life and Love of God

My brothers and sisters in our risen Christ, today we finally get to start celebrating.  We get to celebrate for fifty days!  Did you know that?  Easter Sunday is the first day of 50 days of celebration of our risen Lord!  It is a season, not just a day. 

There is good reason for this.  Just like the apparent confusion about Jesus’ empty tomb by Mary, Peter and the beloved disciple, we need time to digest the gravity of the events that have just taken place from Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Thus, let us feast on today’s gospel.
First we have Mary who discovers an empty tomb and to her terror she believes that the body of Jesus was taken away or stolen.  So she rushes off, in her confusion, to tell Peter and the beloved disciple the atrocity that has been committed. 

Now you must understand, Peter and this other disciple were not sprinting to the tomb of Jesus because they believed something good was happening, they too like Mary, were concerned that the body of the historical Jesus had been taken away in some kind of sinister plot.

It isn’t until Peter and the disciple enter the tomb do they discover that the finality of death has been overcome by seeing the removed burial linens and cloth that Jesus was wrapped up in.  In other words, the fact the linens remained and Jesus was not there, pointed to a shift in the afterlife.    

In fact, Peter went further into the tomb to witness this.  Yet, we get some bizarre behavior of the unnamed disciple and Peter who came to faith when he saw the empty tomb.  Both these important disciples simply wandered back to their respective homes—note that there was no proclaiming or celebrating.  

For whatever reason, they were not ready to accept what they had come to discover.  They were not willing to totally give into the idea that Jesus had overcome the darkness of sin.

Back to Mary.  We find her back at the tomb weeping.  She too was struggling to make sense of what is going on.  And despite even Jesus initially appearing to her, she mistakes him for a gardener and thinks he took the body.  It is only when Jesus speaks her name in such way, she truly wakes up to realize it is the Christ.  

But she has not fully realized what is going on.  Therefore, Jesus tells Mary to not cling to him, to not hold on to the history she once knew.  Jesus wants her to remove the limitations of the heart, her mind and the past so that she can fully discover this new relationship, new life and new hope with the risen Christ who is present before her—she needs to let go, to let God be fully be in her life.  To discover that Christ who is risen from the dead, has won life for us for evermore in the halls of God’s kingdom—she will be remembered.

Thus, Jesus commissions her to be the herald of the good news to the disciples—to let them know that they are now brothers and sisters Christ.  No longer does Jesus use the word servant and master language to describe our relationship with Him.  That in ascending to Abba, Christ has made us one family, and uniquely calls us his own family. We today have only begun to discover the power of the paschal mystery.  

For some, you might still be in wonder of what it means to be called to share in Christ’s servitude in his example of the washing of the disciple’s feet and sharing in the Eucharist. 

For others you might be clinging onto that something that should have been left in the tomb of Christ on Good Friday. 

For others we have may have come to discover the risen Christ but really do not know what that totally means for us and we go home and return to your regular life like Peter and the beloved disciple.

Today’s gospel is letting us know that our life in the resurrection has only just begun and it is a tale about us discerning how we are now truly family with Our Father in heaven, and in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Fittingly, we have a baptism today of Bernadette.  A catechumenate who has been a hearer of the Word and a believer of Jesus.  She now has decided to commit herself to Jesus and our Church family in the dying and rising to new life in the sacrament of baptism. 

We will commit to helping her in building her up as our own sister in Christ and she will commit to being an heir of Christ’s family by bringing the Good News of Jesus to the world in deed and word—much like Mary Magdalene.

But Bernadette, I must warn you this is only the beginning.  There will be days when you will feel that you have been fully immersed in the love of God and you will feel things unimaginable.  And there will be days where it will be like a desert, you will feel lost and you will hunger and thirst for God’s love. 

Such is the life and faith in Christ Jesus, who puts his love and trust in a Church to care for you and nurture you—that is to say that everyone here, and in our diocese and the worldwide communion are here to help you through those times and bring you to the table of the Lord to fed and nourished wholly with the Eucharist.  You are to do the same for them.

Bernadette, look around you at your fellow sisters and brothers. 

Everybody take a good look around at each other.  This is your family bonded in the immeasurable love of Christ.

It is the resurrection of Jesus that has made what we share possible.  He has made us one family in God today—this was ordained from the beginning of time.
We are a church that God has brought together in the name of Christ.  We are a church family that is called to stop clinging to our grudges and sin of disunity and to come together in forgiveness of one another in order to be filled with the love of God. 

When we have stopped our clinging to our unfruitful history, God will demand of us to have a sense of awe and discovery in our faith journey as a Church who embraces our newness in the love and life of God. 
We are brothers and sisters of God’s kingdom—we are all equal in God’s family.  We are God’s church family that has been entrusted to raise not only Bernadette up to new life when life can feel like a tomb—we are to raise each other up in God’s inclusive love and we are to proclaim the Good News of our risen Lord to the world—just as Mary Magdalene did when she discovered that her Lord’s body had not been taken away, but risen from the dead!  

Let us grow together as brothers and sisters in Christ and be excited with anticipation and joy in discovering the victory won for us in our resurrected Lord this Easter Season.  Amen! Alleluia!


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