It brings me great pleasure to wish you a very happy Easter. The greeting is at once an expression of our faith that the Lord is risen, and of my hope that the Lord will deepen the precious gift of his life within us and among us.
As the events of these sacred days have unfolded, we have experienced and celebrated the Lord’s gift of himself to us.
On Thursday, we heard proclaimed the magnificent account from the Gospel of St. John in which Jesus — just prior to the supper he shared with his friends — wrapped an apron around his waist and, acting as servant of all, washed the feet of his friends. Peter voiced the reluctance of all to accept this favor because he did not yet appreciate the nature and depth of the Lord’s redemptive love for him. But having protested, he remained open to the Lord’s wishes for him and assented to the cleansing. The gift of the Eucharist, instituted at that supper, is the living memorial and renewal of the Lord’s total and sacrificial gift of himself to us and for us.
On Friday, we contemplated, once again, the manner of Jesus’ death with all that surrounded it of treachery, abandonment, mockery and torture. Through it all, Jesus spoke very little. When he did, his words were ordered to highlighting the truth and to compassionate forgiveness of those who offended him. I suspect that most of us who attended to the events of Friday were as quiet in remembering and celebrating them as Jesus was in the experience of them.
Now at the Easter Vigil and throughout this most solemn and joyous of all Christian festivals we join all women and men, girls and boys of all times and all places who are baptized into the body of Christ in singing the great Easter Alleluia. He is Risen! He is with us!
In singing that song we give our assent in faith to the apostolic witness handed on to us by generation upon generation of our mothers and fathers in faith. The witness first offered by Mary Magdalene, Peter and John finds acceptance in our hearts and grounds us in the faith that the Christ-life which we first share in baptism will be brought to completion when we pass from this life to the next.
We know that, though the Lord’s gift to us is complete, that gift has not yet come to fullness in our own hearts. We know that we, like Peter, can be reluctant to open our hearts to the Lord’s will in our lives. We also realize that we, like the other characters of whom we have heard these days, are capable of treachery and abandonment of the Lord’s ways for us — especially when the cost of following him can seem more than we want to pay.
The great grace of Easter is its constant reminder that the life and love of Christ — his gifts to us — are more powerful than our reluctance and our sins. They are capable not only of lighting up the darkest places within us but of transforming us ever more deeply to the image and likeness of the Risen Lord who claims us as his own.
So, if you are willing to accept my Easter greeting, I hope it will lead you to name the ways in which you need or wish to experience a deepened Easter life. Each of us will respond to that in our own way, but I do believe that it’s important that we do that.
To acknowledge the ways in which we would like to experience the Christ life more deeply helps us to grow in self-understanding. More importantly, it affirms and strengthens our belief that Jesus is truly risen and cares for us beyond measure. Alleluia!
Peace to all.