THIS Paschal Greeting, also known as the Easter Acclamation, is a traditional greeting at the time of the early Christians and even for some Christians until today. Instead of saying “hello,” one is to greet another person with “The Lord is Risen!” and the response is “Truly, He is Risen.”
I can only imagine the joy the Christians felt as they greet each other, “The Lord is Risen!” This is the same joy we have today as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For many life is a daily battle. The constant struggle to finding work, to getting to work and to just doing the daily tasks of living our lives. As a priest, I have this special privilege of being welcomed into homes and into lives of people we minister to. Many times people share about their lives and their stories - their struggles in life. From persons suffering from terminal cancer, families displaced by war and conflict to young people losing their way - they all share this battle called life. Most of the time I am with them - I am left speechless. Not just because I have nothing to say to them but because of the strength these people of faith have to go through life with so much determination in spite of it all. I am always grateful for these encounters.
During this Holy Week we have seen the battles Jesus had to face from the moment he stepped into the gates of Jerusalem to His passion, death and finally resurrection. We saw how he was welcomed and honored as a King and then later condemned to death. We saw how he was traded for a few silver coins with a kiss by one of his friends. We saw how he was exchanged with Barabbas a known murderer. We saw how he was humiliated and walked the road carrying the cross. We saw how he was eventually crucified. But what kept Jesus going? What kept you going through life without giving up?
Love. The love of Jesus Christ for His Father impelled Him to accept the sufferings of His Passion and it is the same love that He bears for us. But is it not romantic love that we are so used to. We often say these words, “I love you” so casually that it has lost its meaning. “I love you” today has become more like “I like you.” It is a choice, a decision we make.
Jesus made that decision. He chose you.
What does the Resurrection mean to you? Pope Francis in his encyclical, “Evangelii Gaudium” wrote that, “Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit.”
The power of life will always overcome the power of death. That is the message of the Resurrection. This is also reflected in the creation. A seed has to die to bring forth new life. This past week the famed Notre Dame Cathedral burned and the Cross near the altar remained intact - unburned and untouched by the fire. In some images the Cross is seen glowing in the dark. A glimmer of hope some people say. But the Cross is more than a glimmer. It is our hope. He is our hope.
God is a God of Surprises. After the body of Jesus was brought to the tomb, they all lost hope and just went on with their lives thinking that was the end of it all. Somewhere still afraid and scared of the future. What now that Jesus is gone? He is dead. And then we hear voices crying out loud, “He is risen. The Lord is Risen.”
From the start of the history of salvation, Abraham was told by God to 'go, get up and go to the land I send you to,' and there God surprised him in many ways. Mary too, got the surprise of her life when she was told that she will carry a child and name him Emmanuel. God proclaims but always in the most surprising way. And that surprise always moves your heart, it touches you - it happens when you least expect it. Allow God to surprise you every day!
Pope Francis in one of his homilies proclaimed that “The faith we profess in the resurrection makes us men and woman of hope, not despair, men and women of life, not death, for we are comforted by the promise of eternal life, grounded in our union with the risen Christ.” He added that “By his love, He shattered the yoke of death and opened to us the doors of life.”
The power of life will always win over the power of death. Love never fails. It is finished. The battle has been won. The Lord is risen! He is truly risen!