St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, taught his followers about the importance of the Resurrection when he said, "If Christ is not rise, vain is our preaching.
Vain, too, is our faith." The Resurrection then, is the basis of our faith. Had it not happened, Christianity would have been still-born. It would have disappeared from Jerusalem and the rest of the world on that first Easter.
Peter and his companions would have returned to their fishing nets and their boats on Lake Genesereth. And Christ, the good and kind man who had helped so many, would have been forgotten in half a generation. But the Resurrection of Christ is a fact. It did take place. It wasn't just a matter of a few hours in a tomb. It was fulfillment of many centuries of prophecies. The person whom we honor today was the promised Messiah. He showed obedience to his Father by enduring his sacred passion, death and resurrection. He was the son of God, who emptied himself of his divine glory in order to be the perfect human servant of his Father in Heaven. He was raised by his Father and his divine glory was restored and his body was resurrected and glorified.
The Resurrection of Christ was part of God's plan not only for the sake of Christ, but for the sake of all mankind. Because of the perfect obedience of Christ to the Father, all mankind would be made worthy of divine sonship and one day, like Christ, would rise from the dead. This is the simple theology of the Resurrection, as lived by Christ. To us, it is a divine guarantee from God himself that death will not conquer us. It will not separate us from the love that God wants to lavish on us. Because of the Resurrection there is no need for any of us to fear suffering and death. Christ conquered both. Because of his Resurrection from the dead and because of the belief that we, too, will rise from the dead, Easter Sunday is full of hosannas and alleluias for all Christians throughout the world.
The celebration of Easter will take many forms. From the child with his first glimpse of his Easter basket to the adult who is watching the Easter Parade, it is a happy and joyful day.
But what about the thousands throughout our world who are sick and aged, who are poor and lonely and who are suffering? What about the people in our nursing home and hospitals who have been forgotten? What should Easter Sunday mean to them?
Easter Sunday should be a day of renewing our faith in the words of Christ: "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me shall live." Gerard Manly Hopkins, in talking about the victory of Christ over death, described Easter morning as the day in which the world is charged with the grandeur of God. He referred to Easter as being a joyful day because of the "comfort of the Resurrection."
Easter Sunday should remind everyone that this is a day of hope for all of us. Just as the pain and suffering of Christ became transformed into his Resurrection from the dead, so each one of us, despite our mental or physical sickness will one day have fulfilled in our lives the words of St. John: "The former things of this world will have passed, and there will come a time when there will be neither mourning nor grieving."
Easter Sunday should be a reminder to us that this day of joy, this day of fulfillment, is because of the personal love of God for all of us. Christ taught us about personal love when he said, "greater love than this no one has than he who lays down his life for a friend." Christ offered his life for us. This was a sign of his love for us. He asks you to share and unite your sufferings with him as a sign of your personal love for him. Easter becomes more meaningful when your personal sacrifice is united with the personal sacrifice of Christ.
Easter Sunday, then, is a reminder of our personal faith, hope and love of God. It is a day to proclaim the good news of Christ. It teaches that all of us have a few Calvaries to climb, but thanks to this day and the victory of Christ over death, we can repeat the language of the gospels - Be intent on the things above rather than the things of earth. Your life is hidden with Christ in God. This Easter should be a season of hope because of the victory of Christ on that First Easter Day. Happy Easter to all!