The words of the Psalmist reverberate: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Can we really rejoice during a pandemic? As hopeless as things seem in the world today, today’s feast echoes a tune of rejoicing, marking the greatest event in heaven and on earth. This is the feast of feasts, the solemnity of solemnities. It is most correct to simply say that TODAY IS THE FEAST. Every celebration of the Church, every feast, every action of the Church, all our sacraments, our Christian life, your faith which draws you to this place, the preaching of the gospel to all the world—all these are made possible and have meaning because of today’s feast, the Resurrection of the Lord.
I once asked children in RE class to tell me the greatest feast celebrated in the Church. Everyone can guess the answer—Christmas. But is Christmas our greatest feast? Not really. Christmas would make no sense if the event of today did not take place. If Christ did not rise from the dead, perhaps his birthday would be celebrated as ours—by friends and close relatives only. The resurrection is the event to which the mystery of the incarnation points. The liturgical calendar with all feasts and actions of the Church revolves around Easter, and points toward it. St. Paul says, “If Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is vain, our preaching is vain” (I Corinthians 15:14). Easter is our feast; we have been redeemed, humanity is reconciled with God, the gate of paradise closed after the fall is now wide open to receive believers, our access to the Father is reestablished.
Humanity has from antiquity grappled with this question: “What happens to us after we die?” Tremendous effort has been made by philosophers, scientists and experts in various fields to answer this question. All have met a blank wall. But Jesus has given us an answer that is not only appealing, but also assuring and consoling—there is life beyond the grave. The grave is not a home for believers. The empty tomb which the disciples saw today tells the story. Death is not a disintegration of life. In fact, death has become rather a pathway to the fullness of life. That is why, while the world celebrates birthdays when people are born in the flesh, the Church celebrates it when souls are born in spirit. Death to those who are saved is infancy again. In the liturgy, we call it “natalitia,” the Latin word for birthday.
I’ll propose three reasons why Jesus is extraordinary and the only one worth following: 1, He was prophesied in scripture; 2, His coming split time in two BC/AD; 3, He is the only one who came into this world primarily to die. All else come to live and to fulfil some plan in living. Hence, we speak of death as something inevitable, for, if we could, we’ll choose to live on. During this paschal season, we should renew our faith in Jesus and live the new life that offers the possibility of truly living on.