Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. I wonder if someone pulled him aside and said, “Joseph that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone to be buried in?” “Why not?” Joseph may have answered. He only needed it for the weekend.”
Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church. It marks the birthday of our eternal hope. “Easter” literally means “the feast of fresh flowers.” We celebrate it with pride and jubilation for three reasons:
1) The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian faith. The Resurrection is the greatest of the miracles — it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins… But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15: 14, 17, 20). If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then the Church is a fraud and faith is a sham. But if he really did rise from the dead, his message is true!
Without the Resurrection, Jesus would have remained forever a good person who had met a tragic end. People would remember some of his teachings, and a handful of people might try to live according to them. All the basic doctrines of Christianity are founded on the truth of the Resurrection. “Jesus is Lord; He is risen” (Rom 10: 9) was the central theme of the kerygma (or “preaching”), of the apostles.
2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live even though he dies” (Jn 11: 25-26). Christ will raise us up on the last day, but it is also true, in a sense, that we have already risen with Christ. By virtue of the Holy Spirit, our Christian life is already a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1002, #1003).
3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows and tears. It reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers. Our trust in the all-pervading presence of the risen Lord gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears. The prayer of St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland reads: “Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ within me, never to part.”
Easter, the feast of the resurrection, gives us the joyful message that we are a “resurrection people.” This means that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits and dangerous addictions. It gives us the good news that no tomb can hold us down anymore – not the tomb of despair, discouragement or doubt, nor that of death. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the real presence of the resurrected Lord in all the events of our lives. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24).
Easter reminds us that every Good Friday in our lives will have an Easter Sunday, and that Jesus will let us share the power of his resurrection. Each time we display our love of others, we share in the resurrection. Each time we face a betrayal of trust, we share in the resurrection of Jesus. Each time we fail in our attempts to ward off temptations – but keep on trying to overcome them – we share in the resurrection. Each time we continue to hope – even when our hope seems unanswered – we share in the power of Jesus’ resurrection. In short, the message of Easter is that nothing can destroy us – not pain, sin, rejection nor death – because Christ has conquered all these, and we too can conquer them if we put our faith in Him.
Wish you all a Happy Easter! May the Risen Lord Bless you all!
I will leaving to India for Home holidays on Tuesday April 2nd and return on April 29th. Therefore you will not see homily posting during those days.