I remember the first time that I went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and had the grace to have mass inside of the tomb were Our Lord was buried. It is a small space, with room for five people at most to squeeze inside. The stone where Jesus’ body lay served as the altar. Suddenly these words from the Gospel came to my heart and mind: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk.24, 5).
The tomb is empty… CHRIST IS ALIVE, He has risen!! How much joy and consolation this brings to the heart of a true believer. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14).
The liturgical season of Easter lasts until Pentecost, so we have 50 days of joyful celebration. Celebration goes beyond the “feast days”… Celebration means LIVING in depth the JOY of the resurrection, the peace that comes with it, the security of the triumph of Christ over dead, over sin, over all my fears and enemies… It is the JOY OF EASTER! My Lord who has overcome death brings meaning to my own life.
How many sad stories we see on the news! They often seem to depict a lost world, without God and without hope. In our own lives we experience so many temptations and we get tired of fighting. Discouragement, sadness and lack of hope easily invade our hearts it seems that Pope Francis was aware of this when he told us on Palm Sunday: “Joy! Never be sad men and women: a Christian can never be! Never give in to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that arises from possessing many things, rather it comes from having met a Person: Jesus, who is among us; it comes from knowing that with Him we are never alone, even in difficult moments, even when the journey of life collides with problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable”.
Can meeting the Person of the Risen Christ truly transform the way I live? And what would that look like in my daily life? I think the liturgy of these days gives us five characteristics that should describe the life of an “Easter Christian.”
- Security in God’s love for us: This is a fact… God loves us. We know this not just because God tells us this with His words, but above all because He has shown us with His actions. After contemplating the cross we can never doubt. This is what the resurrection of Christ brings to our life: TOTAL SECURITY of being LOVED for who we are. This love is more powerful that all our sins, our miseries, our limitations and our problems.
- Peace: we see it in every gospel passage about the Resurrection: “Peace be with you”. He comes to bring PEACE! He comes to a devastated and emotional Mary Magdalene; just by pronouncing her name Christ fills her with peace. He comes to the fearful and confused apostles with the words “peace be with you.” He brings peace to Peter who is suffering after having denied him. What in my life needs the peace of the Resurrected Christ?
- To live for heaven: “ If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is… set you minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col 3:1)In the midst of our daily trials we can loose sight of our final destination. How different would our life be if we lived for HEAVEN? Our problems, difficulties, even our joys and successes would be seen in a new light. The Resurrection reminds us that we are just preparing for what will come. Cardinal Van Thuan said: “Anything which does not bear the trademark “Eternity” is counterfeit. We are invited to detach from the things of this world that can be an obstacle to our journey to heaven, our true home.
- A luminous life: The Risen Christ has overcome darkness. With His resurrection He brings us LIGHT. Not just external light; but light to my intelligence, to my interior soul: the light of FAITH. No more darkness, no more closing in my own self, but total openness and transparency. The tomb is OPEN; the stone is removed, the darkness disappears, Christ has come out to the light, so I can live in the light of truth.
- Courage to be an apostle of God’s love: The Apostles hid in the upper room, terrified that, after the crucifixion of Jesus, they too would be caught and killed. But Christ comes to them and says: “ Why are you troubled and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has no flesh and bones as you see I have” (Jn 24, 38-39). Christ comes to take away all our fears. He invites us to be courageous to announce the good news, to go to the entire world and proclaim His love, mercy and forgiveness. To proclaim His message of salvation without fear.