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03/27/16 Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Christ - Fr. Reggie

Three days ago, on the evening of Good Friday, apparent failure loomed large.  Not only was the Lord dead and buried, but the Apostles were holed up in a locked room, fearing for their lives.  Where were all the miracles now? What did the Master's beautiful words mean now? It seemed like God had abandoned their cause, exposed it for a naïve dream.

But now Easter Sunday has dawned - and with it, the irreversible victory of the Resurrection. The tomb is empty. The stone is overturned. The shadow of the cross is dispelled by the bright morning light of a new creation. Christ's apparent failure has blossomed into victory, just like the seed that disappears under the ground only to rise up again in fresh, new growth.

That is the basic pattern of Christian life, for the Church, for Christian communities, for individuals: apparent failures blossoming into victories; Good Fridays turning into Easter Sundays.  As we follow Christ, he leads us up to the hill of Calvary, where we die to ourselves in the painful surrender to God's will - our own Good Fridays. But that death in fact gives God's grace room to work in our lives so that we sprout new shoots of wisdom, virtue, and happiness - our own Easter Sundays.

Christian life is an infinite number of variations on this one theme, revealed to us by God in Christ: Good Friday - Easter Sunday; Good Friday - Easter Sunday; Good Friday - Easter Sunday. 

Now we know exactly what's coming. When we expect one without the other, it means we have not learned the fundamental lesson of the gospel. When, on the other hand, we accept and adapt to that rhythm of Christian life, we finally begin to speed forward along the road to wisdom, holiness, and lasting fulfillment.

Did you ever wonder why fairy tales are so popular and memorable? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood...We all know them, remember them, and love them. Why?

Maybe they resonate with us so much because they are true.  Yes, fairy tales are true. They are not true in their details - magic charms, castles, talking animals, and all of that. They are true in their meaning.

They are stories of a battle in which good overpowers evil after a long struggle.

This is the deepest truth of human history and of every human life - the truth of Christ, of his cross and the resurrection.

The fantastic details of fairy tales magnify this basic truth: The heroes are weak, like lambs being led to the slaughter (e.g. Little Red Riding Hood), and the villains are horrible, powerful, and violent (e.g. the wolf). The heroes are crushed and oppressed by the villains, like Christ on the cross, but in the end they return to freedom and life, like Christ in his resurrection.

Isn't it funny how different that pattern is from the pattern of the other stories that constantly bombard our imaginations: the stories told by advertising? Advertisers promise power over suffering, not power through suffering; they promise perpetual Easter Sundays without any Good Fridays.

But, as we are reminded today, that is not the way things are. The real world, in fact, is much more like the fairy tales - maybe that's why they resonate with us so deeply. In the real world, we are each called to follow Christ through the cross of self-sacrificing love to the irreversible joy of the resurrection, over and over again.

Until we adjust our advertising-influenced expectations to fit this pattern, we will always be frustrated in life, because we will be out of touch with the deepest reality of human existence.

Today we should relish this joy of Easter, thanking God for letting us share in this victory, for giving us this hope.

But let's not stop there. Let's not just enjoy Easter, let's let it change our lives. Christ's resurrection is not just a nice idea; it is the power of eternal life at work in us. Why not do something for the eight weeks of the Easter season to plug into that power?

Almost every one of us made an effort to live Lent in a special way. Most likely we gave something up for Lent. That was a practical way to give the special graces that God sends during Lent some room to work in our souls. So, if we gave something up as a way to help us live the penitential season of Lent, why not take something up as a way to help us live the joyful season of Easter?

In the Second Reading, St Paul encouraged us to "think of what is above, not of what is on earth."

Why don't we make an Easter resolution that will help us do that, that will help us keep in mind the eternal life in Christ that is waiting for us if we stay faithful to him?

It could be something simple: like inviting a friend or family member who has forgotten about Christ's victory to come to Mass on Sundays and then inviting them over for brunch or lunch; like watching a classic movie together as a family each Sunday between now and Pentecost - a joyful, uplifting movie; like having a special outing or get-together with friends on Fridays; like taking some time each evening to re-read some of your favorite books, the ones that stir up joy in your soul; coming to the Divine Mercy chaplet or the Touring Fatima statue.

If we ask the Holy Spirit to give us some ideas, he won't be stingy. He just needs us to decide to let Easter make a difference in our lives, to let it change the pattern of our lives, the way it should.

Our souls need that as much as they needed the time of penance and contrition that we lived during Lent otherwise we won't be able to resist the power of the false stories that our culture is constantly bombarding us with...

The Church is a wise mother in giving us six weeks of Lent and eight weeks of Easter. 

Today, as we receive the risen Lord in the Eucharist, let's promise him that we will find a way to benefit from that wisdom.


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