At Easter we celebrate ‘crowning truth of faith in Christ’

By: By Sharon Priester

Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of the Lord, April 4
Acts 10:34a,27-43; Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; John 20:1-9 or Luke 24:1-12 or (at an afternoon or evening Mass) Luke 24:13-35

It’s Easter Sunday — the resurrection of Christ. In his Easter address in 2008, Pope Benedict said the resurrection “is an event of love . . . the Father’s love in handing over his Son for the salvation of the world; the Son’s love in abandoning himself to the Father’s will for us all; the Spirit’s love in raising Jesus from the dead in his transfigured body.”

Throughout the week before Easter, this personal love was shown in the liturgies. On Passion Sunday, Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem was recalled. Like the people who greeted him, we carried palms and sang “Hosanna in the highest.” His entrance “manifested the coming of the kingdom that the king-messiah was going to accomplish by the Passover of his death and resurrection.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 560)

On Holy Thursday, in John’s Gospel, Jesus knew that his time had come when he was “to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1) So at the end of supper, he lovingly washed and dried the feet of his disciples, instructing them to do the same. “For whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (John 13:20)

In the second reading, Paul addressed the Corinthians about the institution of the Eucharist. At the Passover meal, Jesus left the people “a pledge of his love, in order to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover.” (CCC, 1337).

Part of Good Friday’s liturgy focused on Jesus death on the cross. During the Gospel, we said the words, “Crucify him, crucify him,” condemning our Lord like the chief priests. Jesus, doing his Father’s will, suffered and died on the cross, demonstrating the love for the Father that Pope Benedict spoke of.

“MOST BLESSED OF NIGHTS”
Saturday, the Easter Vigil begins with the blessing of the fire and lighting of the Easter Candle in complete darkness. The Easter Candle is brought to the altar and the light of Christ slowly fills the church. The words of the Easter Proclamation, the Exsultet, were heard: “Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!. . . . Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled with God!” It signals a “new life in Christ” for all of us, especially those who become members of the Catholic Church on this “most blessed of nights.”

The celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord continues on Easter Sunday morning. John’s Gospel tells the story of Mary Magdalen, Simon Peter and “the other disciple” going to Jesus’ tomb. Mary and Peter look for the body. “The other disciple” also looked but “saw and believed.” However, the three of them did not “understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”

In the first reading. Peter, having been commissioned by Christ to proclaim the Gospel (Mark 16:15) to all nations, testifies to Cornelius and his household how he and the other disciples had witnessed Christ’s life on earth, and Christ’s death and resurrection. Most importantly, he tells them what he has come to understand and believe “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43)

Paul, in the second reading, says to the Colossians, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ.” Because of his profound love for Christ, Paul wants them to understand that Christ is the source of salvation and one day, free from all sin, they will live with him eternally.

We, too, should heed Paul’s words and come to understand and believe that “the resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as a central truth by the first Christian community. . . . Christ is risen from the dead! Dying, he conquered death; to the dead, he has given life.” (CCC, 638)

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Sharon Priester is one of six regional directors of religious education working with the diocesan Office of Catechetics and serves the Bloomington and Lincoln vicariates of the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington. Contact her at dspriest@msn.com.

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