Easter

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”  After our forty-day journey through the desert of Lent, we arrive today at the glorious season of Easter.  Throughout Lent we meditated upon Our Lord’s Passion and now we turn our attention to Our Lord’s victory over sin and death.  Today we celebrate that day that Our Lord rose from the tomb.  We do not forget what Our Lord did for us: there could be no Easter without Good Friday: there could be no Resurrection without the Cross; but death does not have the final word.  We believe that Our Lord really, truly, physically rose from dead and that by His death and Resurrection He destroyed the power of sin and death: Our Lord conquered the devil and opened for us the Gates of Heaven.  Our Lord’s Resurrection is the new exodus that frees us from slavery to sin and allows us to live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

Saint Paul teaches us that through our Baptism, we are baptized into the death and Resurrection of Our Lord, which means that we are able to participate, even now, in His victory over sin and death.  We do not have to be slaves to sin: through our cooperation with God’s grace we can overcome our sins.  Throughout Lent we practiced self-discipline in order to root sin out of our hearts and grow in virtue and become more Christ-like.  Through our Lenten observances we prepare our hearts to celebrate with joy this most Solemn day of the year.

What does it mean to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection with joy?  The culture in which we live has a tendency to confuse joy with pleasure.  Pleasure is a passing experience and it can be morally good or it can be morally bad.  Joy is much deeper than a passing sensate experience.  True joy comes from knowing God and doing His will.  Sometimes when we think of celebrating Easter the temptation can be to think of gorging ourselves on whatever it is that we gave up for Lent.  It is true that we relax our Lenten discipline once Easter has arrived, but hopefully our Lenten practices have had an effect on our hearts.  The purpose of giving things up for Lent is not simply to deny ourselves things.  Giving things up for Lent is aimed at transforming our hearts and making us more like Christ.  There is a story of a young boy who said that he had given up fighting with his brother for Lent, but that he couldn’t wait for Easter so that he could really give it to him.  The boy in the story clearly missed the point of Lent.  Lent should help us to break sinful habits so that we can be freed from sin and experience the freedom that Christ won for us.

Our Lord’s victory over sin and death is a victory that Our Lord won for us.  He became a man like us in all things precisely so that He could die and rise to save us from our sins.  At Easter, we celebrate that victory.  Through our Baptism we already share in His victory.  The way that we celebrate that victory is by conforming our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In just a moment we will all renew our baptismal promises.  In the renewal of our baptismal promises we renew our promises to reject Satan, and we refuse to be mastered by sin.  We will profess our faith in God and in all that the Church Teaches.  Let us be attentive to these promises that we make.  These are solemn promises that we are all making to God.  Let us do all that we can to be faithful to these promises: for in fulfilling them, we will find that true joy that we all seek.

May Our Risen Lord be the source of our joy this day: may we all be mindful that we also hope to one day rise with Him and enter into His eternal life, His perfect joy and His resplendent glory for all eternity.

Lord Jesus Christ, help us to experience the joy of Your Resurrection this day.  Give us the graces we need, Lord, to be faithful to the promises that we made at our Baptism and that we renew today.  Help us to seek You above all things; draw us ever closer to Yourself until we share in the glory of Your Resurrection forever.  Amen.

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