Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday, Year B
Acts 10:34, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; Mk 16: 1-7
Rejoice and be glad
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad (Ps 118:24). Easter Sunday is indeed a day for all Christians to rejoice and be glad-this the day on which our Lord broke the chains of death and restored life.  This resurrection event remains the source and inspiration of all Christian activities; our Sunday celebrations, and in fact the daily celebration of mass are all rooted in the resurrection experience. Without the resurrection, our preaching will be baseless as reiterated by St Paul: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith” (1 Cor 15:14) 
We have every reason to rejoice and be glad today; for making us to see this day, for the gift of salvation, for calling us to be his children, for the gift of faith, for our priests, for our church, choir, altar sodality, knights of Columbus, for the newly baptized and the new converts, for liberation from the bondage of sin.

Today, death has been swallowed up in victory. O Death where is your victory, death where is your sting? Thanks be to God, he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15;55ff) . The gates of heaven have been opened, so death has no power over us anymore. Oh, if the Son of man sets you free, you are free indeed! For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming ( 1Cor 15:22-23).   It is certain, as Paul says, “if we die with him we shall also live with him, if we endure with him we shall reign with him”( 2 Tim 2:11)

Because of the resurrection, we have nothing to fear. At his birth, the angels told the shepherds ‘Do not be afraid’, and at the resurrection the angels repeated the same message ‘Do not be afraid’. Yet the women went away with fear and when they encountered the Lord, his first words to them again was “Do not be afraid”(Mtt 28:10)

True love of, and faith in Christ casts out all fears. But many, many Christians today live in fear. We fear almost everything around us. Fear is so ingrained in our minds that we sometimes fear our own shadow. It is impossible to live life to the full when we are fearful. Fear can paralyze people, and it diminishes our ability to think right.  Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of the future, fear of examinations, and sickness are some of our common fears. We don’t have to live in fear anymore because his final words after his resurrection abide in us: “I am with you always, until the end of time.”(Mtt 28:20) And “even if I should walk in the valley of death, no evil would I fear, you are there with your crook and your staff, with these you give me comfort.”( Ps.23:4) "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand (Pr. 29:25)St Teresa of Avila says, “let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you, all things are  passing away: God never changes, patience obtains all things, whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices.”

The resurrection gives us hope. It is rightly said where there is life, there is hope. Sad to say people easily get discouraged because of seeming difficult circumstances here below. Do we not realize that every trial, cares and troubles are passing away? The 9/11 terrorist attack instilled anger and fear in many of us, yet families came together to pray. This is hope! The recent plane crash in the French Alps was gruesome, no doubt, but the families took part in prayer services offered on behalf of their loved ones-this is hope. We have all suffered the loss of loved ones, sometimes tragically, leaving us with a shattered experience. All these experiences can either make us hopeful or hopeless. The virtue of hope makes us look beyond the present circumstances, to live on even with terrible loss. Hope is not a virtue until one is able to hope even when all seems hopeless. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. St Paul tells us our tribulations bring about perseverance, and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope, and our hope cannot disappoint us because of the love of Christ which has been poured into our hearts( Rom 5:4).

Hope in the resurrection reminds us that there is no lasting dwelling place here. That’s why our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians challenges us to think of what is above, not of what is of earth, so that when Christ appears in glory, we may rise with him( Col 3:1-4).  Our real home then is in heaven, where Christ is. Life on earth can be likened to a heavenly race in which winning doesn’t depend on how successful you are but on how faithful we have been (Mother Teresa).
Many of us live in this world as if our final destination is here. We devote an immeasurable portion of our time to worldly concerns, pursuit of pleasure, attachment to wealth and property. Sometimes we fight tooth and nail over these things. We make enemies, nurture hate feelings over things that we shall all leave behind someday.

New life in the resurrection requires that we detach ourselves from all material things, die to our old ways, that we may lead simple lifestyles, with a generous heart, bearing in mind that only the things we give away will count for us at the end of this race.

Finally, the resurrection of Jesus is good news! Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome go about spreading the good news to the rest of the brethren. Christianity is always good news. In fact, no amount of tragedies as we have it today on the media can change the content of the Easter message. This good news is an event of universal significance. Let all Christians make a difference as bearers of good news. Let your presence bring joy in your community, your family and your co-workers.
Here is what we can consider the content of good news today. It is about thinking before you speak, summed up in the acronym: THINK: T=True, H=Helpful,  I=Inspiring,  N=Necessary, and K=Kind. Without these ingredients in our speech, we would be spreading bad news.

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