EASTER SUNDAY Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9
According to an ancient Russian Orthodox tradition, the day before Easter was devoted to telling jokes. Priests would join the people in telling their best jokes to one another (presumably “clean” jokes!!) The reason was to reflect the joke God pulled on the devil in the Resurrection. Satan thought he won on Friday, but God had the last laugh on Easter Sunday. Someone said to me the other day, this year priests will have hard time making people believe when they say Jesus is risen, because Easter is on April Fools’ day. Well if anyone says God is dead, or Jesus is not risen then it is a joke. Because we have overwhelming evidences to prove that Jesus is risen. Easter is the greatest feast of Christians which gives hope amid sorrows.
Eric Butterworth tells about a young soldier who lost his legs in battle. Something died within this young man when he found he would never walk again. He lay in his hospital bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. He refused to talk to anyone who tried to help him. He refused to cooperate with doctors or nurses who wanted to help him to adjust.
One day another inmate of the hospital strolled in and sat down on a chair near the bed. He drew a harmonica from his pocket and began to play softly. The patient looked at him for a second, then back to the ceiling. That was all for that day. Next day the player came again. For several days he continued to come and to play quietly. One day he said, "Does my playing annoy you?" The patient said, "No, I guess I like it." They talked a little more each day.
One day the harmonica player was in a jovial mood. He played a sprightly tune and began to do a tap dance. The soldier looked on but was apparently unimpressed. "Hey, why don't you smile once and let the world know you're alive!" the dancer said with a friendly smile. But the legless soldier said, "I might as well be dead as in the fix I'm in." "Okay," answered his happy friend, "so you're dead. But you're not as dead as a fellow who was crucified two thousand years ago, and He came out of it all right." "Oh, it's easy for you to preach," replied the patient, "but if you were in my fix, you'd sing a different tune." With this the dancer stood up and said, "I know a two-thousand-year-old resurrection is pretty far in the dim past. So maybe an up-to-date example will help you to believe it can be done." With that he pulled up his trouser legs and the young man in the bed looked and saw two artificial limbs. The tap-dancing fellow with the harmonica was not simply a Pollyanna. He once lay where that young soldier now lay. He himself had known the power of a resurrection. He had learned to live life abundantly--even without his legs. Needless to say, the young soldier's own resurrection began that moment. Easter isn't just about dying. It's about the power of belief in a world of lost hope. It is about knowing that no situation is beyond God's redeeming power.
In this world of pain, sorrows and tears, Easter reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common prayers. Our trust in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.
The Resurrection is the greatest of the miracles -- it proves that Jesus is God. There are overwhelming evidences for the resurrection. Transformed life of individual Christians itself is a strong proof.
A day after the terrible tragedy at Columbine High, CNN journalist Larry King did a live interview with a teenage girl named Mickie Cain, a student who had witnessed the massacre. Mickie was having a difficult time maintaining her composure and was able to blurt out only a few words before lapsing into uncontrollable sobs. Larry King was patient and gave her plenty of time to regain her composure. Mickie recounted the chilling story: “Let me tell you about my friend Cassie,” she said. “[Cassie] was amazing . . . She completely stood up for God when the killers asked her if there was anyone [in the classroom] who had faith in Christ. She spoke up [and said she did] and they shot her for it.” [Franklin Graham, The Name (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002), pp. 14-15]. Such a testimony as Cassie made that day makes our witness look pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? The critical question is, would you make such a sacrifice for something that you knew was patently untrue? Of course not. And neither would those early disciples of Christ. They had met Christ, Risen from the grave, and they would not testify otherwise, even while being tortured. The witnesses are so credible, the change in their lives so dramatic, that their testimony cannot be disregarded.
The resurrected Christ appeared only to those who did believe. The angel told the men: Go to Judea and there you will find him. I would suggest that Judea represents the community of believers. Judea was to be the place where Jesus would plainly reveal to his followers that he was indeed alive. He did not reveal himself to the Caiaphases and Pilates and Herods of the world. Only Paul can be told as one of the exceptions. Jesus appeared to him even though he was an enemy of Jesus.
Resurrection is Good News, but at the same time, it’s sometimes painful because it involves death. Before the power of the Resurrection can take hold in our own lives, we’re called to die to sin, to die to self. We may even have to die to our own dreams, so that God can do what He wants to do with our lives.
We all choose death by old age." Wouldn't we all! But that just delays the big question: Then what? What comes after you finally die at the age of 110 on the golf course? Only Jesus has the answer. He says, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, even though he die, will live with Me forever."
Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. "Some of his friends asked him, 'Why have you become a Christian?' He answered, 'Well, it's like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive--which one would you ask which way to go?'" There is no religious founder who is alive today, except Jesus.
Resurrection means that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits and dangerous addictions. It gives us the Good News that no tomb can hold us down anymore - not the tomb of despair, discouragement or doubt, nor that of death. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the real presence of the Risen Lord in all the events of our lives. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24). Wish you all a happy Easter.