Cycle C: Easter Sunday





This day is for us the feast of feasts, the summit of the liturgical year, the Day which the Lord has made, when we celebrate the great event of Christ’s Resurrection. This is for us the greatest day of the year, because it has changed everything in the world. However, we may ask ourselves...


I-   Has everything truly changed?


When we look at what is happening in the world, we wonder really whether anything has changed. There are armed conflicts in Syria and Sudan, assassinations in Kashmir, a tsunami in Asia, hunger in various countries of Africa, broken families everywhere in the world! So much of injustice and hatred! So much of suffering and pain! Here is the testimony of Mother Teresa who witnessed the sufferings of so many people in her life. On a particular occasion, she said:


“There are different types of hunger. Sometimes it is enough to offer a plate of rice to satisfy the hunger of the body. But there is another hunger which is much deeper: the hunger for love. What is more terrible than loneliness or the feeling of rejection? At night, such people sleep on the streets of London, New York, Madrid, Mumbai and other great cities... The first time that I was in London, I went out at night with another Sister. The night was very cold. We saw many people sleeping on the streets. There was a respectable old man who was shivering in the cold. In front of him, another old man who protected him against the cold with his open coat. They told us: ‘Please, take us anywhere, we would like so much to be able to sleep under a blanket.’”


Then how can we celebrate the deliverance of the world? How can we say “Happy Easter”, when such things are happening? Are we not tempted sometimes to say: “O Christ, where is your victory?”


II-   The “Jesus puzzling affair”


The apostles were very far from imagining that Jesus would rise from the dead, because they were too upset by his death. Actually, no one narrated the event of the Resurrection, because no one was there when it took place. No one saw Jesus rising in his tomb and coming out of it. We would like so much to have more details about the Resurrection, but the apostles saw only an empty tomb. And when they saw it, they believed and began to proclaim: “He is alive! He is risen from the dead!”


What a stupefying truth!  He is risen from the dead. But how? Is he risen like Lazarus who resumed the life he had before he died and was reanimated? No, Jesus did not resume the life he had before he died on the cross. He did not come back to life as his disciples had known him on the shore of the lake, at Cana or in Jerusalem. He was different and yet the same. So different that now he is present everywhere.


The most astonishing thing that happened on the first Easter morning was not the fact that the apostles began to proclaim the resurrection, but that they proclaimed the Resurrection of Jesus, that Galilean who had been sentenced to death and executed. Many of the Jews already believed that, one day, the just would rise from the dead. But that the first one to rise from the dead would be Jesus of Nazareth, that was impossible. Had he not been forsaken by God himself when he died on the cross?


The “Jesus puzzling affair” seemed to be over, when the news spread in Jerusalem, in Judea and Galilee that he was alive. Yes, the one who had challenged the High Priests, the one who had created a scandal in the Temple was alive. The disciples were not saying only that he had come back to life, but that God had “glorified and exalted” him and “made him sit at His right hand.” So Jesus was really the Son of God. He was the one who had been sent to set up a new world or a new kingdom. From that moment onwards everything was changed.


III-   A new world order


1 -  To proclaim that Jesus is risen from the dead is to say that the world has already begun to change. How? It all began when Jesus went about curing the sick and rescuing the oppressed. All these miracles were signs that a change had begun to take place in the world


But when we say that the Resurrection of Jesus has brought about a change in the world, we cannot show it with statistics. You cannot take any photo of it. Externally, the world remains the same as it was before, but a new hope is given to it: the hope of resurrection. Externally, our life remains the same, but a new meaning is given to it: it will never end. It will blossom in eternal life.


Over the triple doorway of the cathedral of Milan in Italy, there are three inscriptions spanning the splendid arches. Over one of them is carved a beautiful wreath of roses and underneath is the saying, “All that pleases is but for a moment.” Over the other arch is sculptured a cross and these are the words beneath: “All that troubles is but for a moment.” But underneath the great central entrance in the main aisle is the inscription, “That only is important which is eternal.”


2  -  Besides this, the Resurrection of Jesus has really brought about a change in the world: and this is the tremendous power of love received from Jesus. There are some people whose life is filled with such great love that the only explanation we can find for it is the power of Christ’s Resurrection in them. It is precisely because they heard and understood the message of Christ’s Resurrection that so many Christians have decided to bear witness to the risen Lord. By the example of their lives, they go on  proclaiming that a great change has already taken place in the world.

His name was Rajesh. He had wild hair, wore a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and old shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He was brilliant, kind of esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.

Across the street from the campus was a well-dressed, very conservative Protestant church. They wanted to develop a ministry to the students, but were not sure how to go about it. One day Rajesh decided to go there. He walked in with his shoes, jeans, his T- shirt, and wild hair. The service had already started and so Rajesh started down the aisle looking for a seat. The church was completely packed and he couldn’t find a seat. By now people were looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything. Rajesh got closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realized there were no seats, he just squatted down right on the carpet.           

By now the people were really uptight, and the tension in the air was thick. About this time, the minister realized that from way at the back of the church, an old man was slowly making his way toward Rajesh. That man was in his eighties, had silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walked with a cane and as he started walking toward this boy, all were saying to themselves that you couldn’t blame him for what he was going to do. How could you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?

It took a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church was utterly silent except for the clicking of the man’s cane. All eyes were focused on him. You couldn’t even hear anyone breathing. The minister couldn’t preach the sermon until the old man did what he had to do. And then they saw this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowered himself and sat down next to Rajesh and worshiped with him so he wouldn’t be alone. Everyone choked up with emotion. When the minister gained control, he said, “what I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget. Be careful how you live. You may be the only biblical texts on the Resurrection some people will ever read”.


There are Christians who pray unceasingly for the unity of the Church. These are the Holy Father Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt who met recently and prayed for Church unity. The messengers of the Resurrection of Christ are all these lay people who have decided to play active roles in the apostolate of the Church. The messengers of the Resurrection are also those who fight against so many forms of injustice going on in the world, like war, racial discrimination, the exploitation of the poor, etc.


Even in your own life, I am sure there are moments when you experience the power of Christ’s Resurrection: for example, when you succeed in praying for an “enemy”, when you keep smiling in spite of trials, when you give a helping hand to those in need.


This tremendous power that changes everything in the world is the power of love, that love which is the effect of Christ’s Resurrection in our lives and which leads to the eternal kingdom. That love exists, and we can see it at work everywhere in the world, even in the midst of hatred and injustices. That is why we can say:



“A Very Happy Easter to all!”

Hervé Morissette, csc