Deacon Tony reflects: The joy of the Risen Christ

One of my old bosses had a catch phrase, which he often used at the end of a day; it was, What a day I’ve had, I’m doing no more”. Imagine for a moment being one of the disciples, Peter or John, imagine the week they had, that last week with Jesus. One day they are entering the city singing Hosannas, as the week progresses, they celebrate the Passover with their Master and during this Passover meal, their Master gets up from table and insists that He washes their feet. He then institutes the Eucharist and makes them priests so that they could share that Eucharistic sacrifice with others. One of their own betrays the Master, who is then taken by force; while they stand back and watch, Peter even denies knowing the Master three times. They then watch helplessly as the Man they love, is hung from a tree and breathes His last. What a week they had, surely there was no more!

Now three days later some of the women come rushing to them telling them that the Master’s body is missing. They run towards the tomb, and as they run, the Master’s words start to come back to them. “The temple will be destroyed, and He will raise it again after three days”; He said he “will rise from the dead”, what does this mean? He raised Lazarus from the dead, has He managed to conquer death for himself too? If he has what does that mean for me? All of these thoughts, and more, must have been racing through their minds as they ran; this time running towards where they thought Christ would be, instead of running away from Him. That week they went from Hosannas to despair to Alleluias.

Today’s Gospel tells us that until “that moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” Nowadays we call these light bulb moments. Can we remember our lightbulb moment when we realised the significance of this day? Has our light bulb moment even happened yet? Christ has risen from the dead! The tomb is empty! He has conquered death so that we, sinners as we are, can become like Him. Jesus, the Word made flesh, the God who became man, the Eternal One who chose to die so that we his creations, made out of the earth, with a limited life span, can become like God and live forever in His Kingdom. Is it any wonder we say Alleluia?

Today is a day of great joy. The world outside of the Church will tell you it’s about chocolate and Easter bunnies, a spring holiday. While we can enjoy the chocolate and the times gathered with our family, we know that it is far more important than that. In our Baptism we entered the grave with Jesus and when Jesus was resurrected, we were given our purpose; to be like Him, to live like Him, to love like Him, to die like Him and to rise like Him. Alleluia!

This is the day when we discovered that death is not the end. St Paul tells us that we have been brought back to true life in Christ and because of this we must focus on what is important, our thoughts are to be on heavenly things, we mustn’t be distracted by earthly things, so that when Christ is revealed, we too will be revealed in all of our glory with him.

I asked us at the beginning of this Homily to imagine being Peter or John during Holy Week. The first reading we have today takes us to another time with St Peter; a time when he was able to share details of what it was like to be with the Risen Christ, to share a meal with Him, to drink with Him and no doubt to rejoice with Him. Today we are asked to take that joy, the Joy of the Risen Christ out into the world where they talk about spring holidays, Easter bunnies and buy lots of chocolate to celebrate Christianity’s Greatest Day. Today is our day, today is the day that the Lord has made, today is the day when He rose again, we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 638-655, 989, 1001-1002: the Resurrection of Christ and our resurrection
CCC 647, 1167-1170, 1243, 1287: Easter, the Lord’s Day
CCC 1212: the Sacraments of Initiation
CCC 1214-1222, 1226-1228, 1234-1245, 1254: Baptism
CCC 1286-1289: Confirmation
CCC 1322-1323: Eucharist

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • Those attending the RCIA course at St Bede’s on Wednesdays.
  • Our Confirmation candidates as they continue their preparations.
  • For those who have been putting off going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; that they will have the courage to go and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • For those who do not believe in God, that this Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • For all those receiving Sacraments at our Easter Vigil Services, we wish them all a blessed week and a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
  • Fr Chris at St Joseph’s who is sick and Fr John & Fr Dominic who are supporting St Joseph’s at this time.