When Judas arrived at the Garden of Olives to arrest Jesus, Jesus asked him, “Why are you here?” So today I ask you the same question: friends, why are you here after all our Church has gone through? This is the same Church you have been reading about in the headlines. This is what has been called by one newspaper the “Scandal Ridden Church.”
Beyond your own private responses, let me suggest an answer. We are here because of what I call the Easter Church, the Bedrock Church. The two-thousand year old church that continues to display quite persistent daily heroism. For over two-thousand years, ordinary people have done the deeds of love, forgiveness and compassion in the name of the risen Savior.
Perhaps you are here because you recognize the persistent presence of Christ. That in this Easter Church there is still the same bread and the same wine. The same teaching, the same scriptures, the same Gospel, the same baptism. There is the same forgiveness, the same quiet heroes, the same faith, hope and love. All in the name of the one who was raised 2000 years ago, and is with us today.
As we begin again, every year at the Easter Vigil a new spark is struck from the flint to light a new candle. New holy water is blessed, and new hosts are consecrated. We are beginning all over again, making all things new. Our Lord’s death and resurrection were the turning points in the history of creation: it made all things new.
The resurrection is a pledge that one day every tomb, like the tomb of Christ, will be empty. That life will not die with death. Easter is not a one-man show. Jesus is alive. That is what brings us to church at Easter.
But He did not burst from the tomb for His own sake, to prove something like Houdini. His whole life was unique. He preached a twin message everyone could understand: Love God above all else; love your sister and brother as much as you love yourself.
He made enemies of the powerful because He put compassion above traditions, love above law, and people above things. He claimed a relationship with the Father so intimate that the scandalized took up stones to cast at Him for blasphemy. He proved His divinity by not only dying for us, but also rising for us. He came alive to give us life, and to share in God’s own life. Not only in the hereafter, but also in the here and now. That is important: it is not enough to have life, even God’s life, you must live it, feel it, and open up to it.
Jesus made it quite plain when He said, “I come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” Some of us are not concerned with the question of is there life after death, because they have not realized that there is life after birth. St. Paul tells us we are a new creation. We are radically different from what we would have been if Christ had not come, had not carried His cross to Calvary. Because of Christ, our life should be different.
Begin again! Make anew your relationship with Christ, and your life will also begin again, and you will be the new light in darkness.
And so we wish you a happy and blessed Easter. St. Paul reminds us: For us, life is Christ, and He has risen. The tomb is empty!” We praise You, O God, and we bless You. Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world. And that is why we are here.