A practice that many do not practice is the traditional Easter greeting among Christians. I do it every year, but not everyone knows the response. The greeting is, “The Lord is Risen!” Our response to that is, “The Lord is truly Risen!” I once again address you brothers and sisters in the Lord, “The Lord is Risen;” “the Lord is truly Risen.”
I used to visit a suffering friend and I would end up always reading the same book and it seemed like I would never finish it. We would get close to the end of the book and the next time she wanted to start from the beginning. I asked her why she wanted me to keep reading from the same book over and over again; she said she enjoyed the book, but she was afraid that if she read the last chapter she would not want to read the book any more.
We got the last chapter today in the scriptures. We know how the greatest story of all time ends. It ends with the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We know how this great epic ends. It ends with the good guys winning. It ends with life conquering death. It ends with truth triumphing over lies. It ends with love winning over hate. It ends with hope over despair and faith over doubt. It ends with Jesus over Satan. It ends with light over darkness and life over death. We are an intimate part of this story so we know how our own story is going to end. We even know – talk about an act of faith – we know that spring will conquer over winter; that is a tough one recently.
The Story ends with life and not death. The story ends with hope and not despair. It will end with unity and life and no separation. We are here to celebrate the fact we share in is His life and Resurrection and we know how our own story will end if we stay close to Him. The story ends with a reality that life has meaning – every aspect of our lives has meaning.
The Resurrection means that life has meaning. The Resurrection means that your life and my life have meaning. The Resurrection means there is a destination. It does not just hope for destination; the Resurrection proves that there is a destination. Every person in this church this morning has experienced obstacles. Every person in this Basilica has experienced suffering, has experienced loss, and to one degree or another has experienced betrayal and heartbreak.
We have experienced struggle after struggle and obstacle and if the Resurrection is not real and there is no destination then this world is no more than one suffering after another, one obstacle after another, one defeat after another, one rejection after another, with nothing at the end. If the Resurrection is not real, then your obstacles mean nothing; if the Resurrection is not real, then your sufferings mean nothing; if the Resurrection is not a historical reality, then your heartbreak means nothing because your life means nothing and every joy and every love and every promise you have all amount to zero.
But. The reality and the fact and the historical event of the Resurrection means that your life, your suffering, your promises, your joys mean something because you have a destination and you have something to hope for because you have something to hope in. You have something to hope for – a destiny that is heaven – because you have something to hope in – the historical reality of the Resurrection. You can place all of your hope in this firm foundation. This reality should bring energy into our lives.
This is what we see in the Gospel from St. John. One of things we notice is that everybody is running. Sometimes in the details of the Gospel we find very important facts. This would be especially true of St. John’s Gospel. One of the things that is happening because of Jesus’ Resurrection is people are running. In the first case we have Mary Magdalene, who came to the tomb expecting to find Jesus’ dead body, but instead she finds the stone rolled away. Her response to this confusion is to run from the tomb in confusion. It is a typical characteristic of the response of the early Church to the Resurrection of Jesus. In all of the accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection there is some confusion because people do not expect this to take place. They expect Jesus to be dead and Jesus is raised from the dead; this was an unexpected event for them in their relationship with Jesus, and it causes confusion, and often they run. This is one of the things Mary Magdalene does in response: she runs. She is not the only one along the way; she encounters Peter and the disciple who Jesus loved and she described to them that the tomb is empty. In response to that experience what do they do? They run, not away from the tomb as Mary Magdalene, but towards the tomb. There is something about the Resurrection of Jesus that brings this kind of energy and life to His disciples.
On this celebration of Easter, we look at our own lives. The Resurrection does not bring us confusion; it brings us hope. But it also leads us to run, and to run with enthusiasm in the living out of our Christian life. Run with enthusiasm to others to share with them the good news that Jesus has been raised from the dead.
Now with great enthusiasm we run to renew our baptismal promises and to believe in the reality of the Resurrection. Let’s make sure to speak the words clearly and from the heart, and to commit our life to fully following Christ, particularly in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. It does not matter that you are a sinner; that is why He died: so you do not have to be stuck in sin. You are not perfect and you will never be perfect, but I invite you to let the reality of the Resurrection change your life. I invite you to say, “I will not let what God did for me go to waste.” I invite you to make the decision to live in conformity with the truth and hope that are ours in the death and Resurrection of Christ.