Homily for Easter Sunday, Year B

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today: Alleluia, Alleluia!

Readings: 1stActs 10: 34. 37-43; Ps: 117: 1-2. 16-23; 2nd: Col 3:1-4; Gos: Mk 16:1-7

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

(https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8452-8392)

As a young boy, I longed for Easter season because I loved to hear and sing this traditional Easter hymn (Victimae Paschali): “Christ the Lord has risen today, Alleluia! Christians, haste your vows to pay, Alleluia…” translated from Latin to English by Lane E. Leeson in Catholic Hymns book, 1853). I was merely interested in this song without actually reflecting on the imports of Easter. However, as I grew up, I realized that Easter is more than just singing this song. This is because now I understand the full meaning of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

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Once, as I passed by a neighbor’s house, I was attracted by his little son. He was sitting expectantly in their small flower garden as if he was waiting for someone. I called out to him, Chuka! What are you doing there? His quick response was, “Father, I have just planted my seed here, and I am waiting for it to grow now so that I can have my seed back.” I smiled at him and said to him, Chuka, before you get your seed back, it must remain there for some days, die, germinate, grow and, bear fruits. This will take some weeks, okay? The poor boy looked at me in disappointment and said: “Then, if that is the case, let me take my seed back.” Of course, he dug up his seed, and off he went.

Today we sing and shout Alleluia because our patience, hope, and faith have not failed us, unlike Chuka’s. Chika was not ready for the ordeal, for his seed to rot, and “resurrect” in order to bear him more and better fruits. Today is the greatest of all Sundays in the Christian calendar because of the renewal of life that it brings. Easter is not only the beginning of the new life of the glorified Christ, but it is also equally, the beginning of the new life of all true Christians.

Today, we celebrate the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness, and peace over chaos. We celebrate hope, patience, and the fulfillment of God’s Promise to his people. We also celebrate today what makes the Christian religion unique amongst other world religions. That is the resurrection of our Lord. So today, as Paul puts it: “We bless God the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead” (Act 2: 42-43). This means that the death of Christ was ours. So, his resurrection and new life are now equally ours.

Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus left the linen cloths with which he was buried in the grave when he resurrected. In order words, he did not cling to any “worldly” thing or allowed them to pull him down. So, there are two questions we need to ask ourselves this Easter. The first is: Did I resurrect with Christ this Easter? The second question is: What have I left in “my grave” this Easter? If we must rise like Christ, we must be equally ready to detach ourselves from all unnecessary mundane things to which we are firmly and madly attached to. Jesus understood and obeyed the natural law, which holds that one must leave something behind for one to rise. If we fail to do this, the law of gravity that Jesus himself understood and obeyed might prevail against us.

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Therefore, the core message of Easter is that today, we like Christ, have risen above all the obstacles that held us down in the grave. It is a message that, even though death and the grave were parts of God’s salvation plan, they will not last for eternity (Ps. 30, 5). It is a blessed assurance that God is faithful to his promises and will deliver us from all the dangerous situations. It is also an assurance that our day of glory will surely come. Today is “a day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps118, 22).” Alleluia, Alleluia!

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!

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