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April 20, 2014

At the Easter Vigil celebration, a man, Murphy, dozed off during the homily.  The priest was upset and decided to rectify the situation.  When Murphy was dozing, the priest said in a calm voice, “All who want to go to heaven with the Risen Lord, please stand up.”

Everyone stood up, except Murphy.  After they were seated, the priest said, “Now all who want to go to hell, please rise” and yelled out the two words “please rise.”  Quickly the sleeping man jumped to his feet, looked around and sized up the situation then spoke to the priest, “Father, I really don’t know what we’re voting on, but it looks like you and I are the only ones in favor of it.”

I would like to thank all of you who have participated in our Lent and Easter Celebrations, especially the Liturgy Committee, the Choirs, RCIA Team, the Arts and Environment, the Lectors, Altar Servers, Eucharistic Ministers, Ushers, and everyone.  I think we have had a beautiful season.  Thanks again.

Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. We have journeyed with Jesus during these forty days of Lent. In particular through our devotional celebration of the Stations of the Cross, the Passion Sunday and Good Friday we have accompanied him in his last three hours and stood with him as he died on Calvary and was laid in the tomb. This journey through Lent ends in a graveyard. When Joseph of Arimathea and his companions roll the stone to block the entrance to the tomb we, like Jesus’ closest followers, leave the tomb in silence and sadness.

But that was not the end. Christ rose from the dead! He burst through the chains of death and appeared to the disciples!  We, humans, are so used to the finality of death. It took the disciples some times to realize who Jesus was and what had happened. Some, like Thomas, refused to believe until they saw Jesus in the flesh—and we certainly understand their hesitation.

The significance of the resurrection of Jesus, of course, goes far beyond the mere resuscitation of a body. The implications are far reaching and life changing.   Christ’s resurrection proves definitively his claim that he is the Son of God. Christ’s resurrection means that there is no finality to death. Christ’s resurrection opens for us the way to eternal life.

Furthermore his resurrection means that through Baptism we can begin to live this new life now. We are no longer slaves to sin because we have risen with him in Baptism. We live as members of his Church and as his ambassadors here on earth.

We gather each week around the Table of the Lord to celebrate the astounding events that happened on that first Easter all those years ago. Each Sunday we strengthen our faith through reading the Scriptures together and through sharing Christ’s body and blood as he told us to. In this way we grow closer to one another and to God each Sunday.

Christ resurrected on Sunday.  That is why Sunday is the most important day of the week.  Sunday is a small Easter and Easter is a great Sunday.  Our Sunday Mass is not some mere weekly spiritual routine we carry out on a rest day from work. It is the very source of our life as Christians. It is our weekly celebration of the Resurrection and the very reason for calling ourselves Christians.  Catholics have always been very strong about the need to attend Mass on Sundays. Perhaps it is useful to remind ourselves that the danger of committing a mortal sin if we ignore the Lord and do not attend the Sunday Mass. In recent times there has been a noticeable slackening off in the regularity of attendance by many people in our parish and I don’t know why.  I am not the sort of priest who is into haranguing my congregation. But perhaps a gentle reminder might be in order of the importance of Sunday mass.

There is great value in regularity and routine especially in matters of faith. When we allow the pressure of all our other activities to encroach on our Sunday Mass attendance it is easy to let things slip. Weekly becomes fortnightly, fortnightly becomes monthly, and monthly becomes all too soon annually—and then where has our faith gone?

However, let us not be downhearted for today is a day of celebration. Today is the day of joy and feasting.  We celebrate the victory Christ has won for us—a victory over sin and death. It is the day when we rejoice that Christ has chosen to reveal to us his plan for the world and has singled us out for a particular role in it. It is the day when we rejoice in the new hope given to the world.

So let us enjoy this feast day when we commemorate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us rejoice and be glad. Let us praise God and thank him for all he has done for us.  On our part, we try our best to keep our Baptismal promises and ask God for the strength to remain faithful in the year ahead. 

Happy Easter Alleluia, Alleluia.