Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Today we complete the great Paschal mystery with the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the greatest feast in the entire year and the most important for us as followers of Christ, for it gives our entire lives new meaning and purpose.
Looking back at that first Easter morning, we heard in the Gospel reading how Mary Magdalene, still saddened by Jesus’ death, went to the tomb to visit the burial place of Jesus. She went there expecting to find a corpse, in order to mourn the death of the Lord who showed her mercy. To her surprise, the great stone at the entrance to the tomb was rolled away and no body was found inside. Her sadness now turned to confusion. She quickly went to tell Peter and the disciples. Peter ran with John to the tomb, both looked inside and Peter remained confused as well, while John remembered what Jesus had told them earlier, that he was to die and to be raised from the dead. This is why the gospel recalls that John saw and believed. John’s sadness did not turn into confusion but rather to faith and joy.
The account of the first Easter morning is very significant for us today. How often does it occur that we remain saddened by the events of our lives: the hardships and difficulties of daily life, troubles in the world, problems in society and in our families, marital quarrels, tough exams at school, difficulties at the work place, financial hardships, sickness and even death. All of these things mentioned and many more, can at times leave us feeling sad, disappointed and alone in this world, helpless and confused with little or no hope for the future.
Even though we are believers, we can easily fall into confusion if we do not constantly renew our faith in the risen Lord. Though we believe in God and that Jesus rose from the dead, the difficulties of life nevertheless tend to impose too heavy a burden on us and we remain saddened and confused. Truly saddened by the excessive violence and wars going on in the world. Confused when moral values are questioned and we think we don’t know which way to act. Saddened when we see that even declared Christians, some who may be leaders in society and the Church itself, commit awful sins and evil to others. Confusion comes when we hear the great teachings of Christ and then examine our own lives and think that it is impossible to fulfill these demands of Christ. The danger then is that everything written in the Bible becomes for us a type of folklore or fairy tale, that has absolutely no significance for our lives. What we celebrate then at Mass then becomes a tradition for us instead of an encounter with our risen Lord and God!
The Resurrection of our Lord however is not folklore nor a fairy tale but a fact and the very foundation of our faith, which provides us with great joy. Today we are recalling and renewing this faith of the Church, handed down through the centuries from the times of the first apostles. They were witnesses to the fact that the Lord Jesus, three days after dying on a cross, rose from the dead as he said he would and appeared to his followers. He thereby proved that he indeed is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, and that his death and resurrection were necessary for our salvation and reconciliation with God.
When the disciples did see and meet the risen Lord their sadness and confusion were gone and immediately turned to joy. This is true for us as well, for when we encounter the Lord in prayer, in the Eucharist and the other sacraments, when we experience his presence in those who believe in him, we forget our troubles and are overcome by the joy that God truly is alive. This joy enables us to endure the hardships of life with greater ease. They don’t go away for us that easily, but we have the inner spiritual strength to rise above the difficulties, the sins and the evil that exist in us and in the world, to a new life in God. This is a joy which no power nor person can take away, for it comes from God who fills our hearts and minds with his presence and sees to our every need.
The Resurrection of the Lord therefore provides our lives with great meaning and purpose. This is the hidden source and mystery of our joy as Christians: our faith in the risen Lord, who sustains us and guides us, for whoever believes in Christ shall live with him after death and be raised on the final day.
Awake then, brothers and sisters, as Christ woke up from the dead to a new way of living! Rise up in order to be a proud Christian, a follower of Christ, of such a great God. Arise with the Lord to a life of love towards God and all men and women, and don’t let the hardships of life overcome you, but let yourselves be overcome by the power of God’s eternal love.
Our eternal life begins here on earth when we accept Jesus as our Lord and God, and faithfully follow him in everything that he teaches us through his Church. And as death had no power over Christ the Lord, so too our death will only be the moment when we pass from this world to the next, to meet our Lord where he reigns at the right hand of the Father. Let us go forth therefore with faith and courage, with hope and love, leading true Christian lives as disciples of Christ; living each day as a new encounter with our Lord and offering our lives and service to him in return as a sign of our devotion and gratitude. The Lord is risen! Happy Easter! Alleluia!