Easter is the happiest day in the whole year in our Catholic faith. Christmas, too, is a joyous occasion, but whereas Christmas vibrates with a note of sweetness, Easter resounds with a note of triumph. Easter is the joy for the triumph of Christ, the joy for His victory.
St. Paul gave a homily about Easter to the early Christian community in his first epistle to the Corinthians:
Your boasting is not appropriate. Do you know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5: 6 – 8)
In this world of ours there are too many superficial joys which are based on insecure foundations. On the other hand, our Easter joy is different. Our Easter joy is solidly grounded on the knowledge that we are living with the unleavened bread of sincerity and the truth, the truth that Christ brought to this world and confirmed by His Resurrection. The Resurrection tells us that our faith and hope are not founded on a dead man who died on a cross two thousand years ago in Calvary, but on a living man who had found a way to walk out of His own tomb. We believe that with His help, we will also be able to walk out of our own tomb one day.
A friend of mine, a retired Jesuit priest, told me the fact that Jesus rose from the dead has sustained him for decades through thick and thin. The same fact has also sustained me in my daily trials and challenges.
The Easter joy began about two thousand years ago when some faithful holy women who, at the first rays of the Sunday dawn, were going to visit a tomb with some poor planning.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought perfumed oils with which they intended to go and anoint Jesus. Very early, just after sunrise, on the first day of the week they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked, they found that the stone had been rolled back. (It was a huge one.) (Mark 16: 1 – 4)
These women knew in advance they did not have the physical strength to move the huge stone away which had been blocking the entrance to the tomb, and they wondered who would roll back the stone from the entrance for them. The size and the weight of the stone, however, did not deter them from proceeding with their plan because they were too much taken up with the desire of finding Jesus. Hardly had they arrived when they saw the stone had already been rolled away for them. They entered the tomb and found an angel who greeted them with the surprise announcement: “He is risen. He is not here.”
Do we have the same keen desire to find the Lord like these holy women? And how seriously have we been seeking Him? Like these women, we may have the desire to find the Lord but we may be preoccupied with the question of not knowing how to get rid of the obstacles and roll away from our souls the stones which have prevented us from finding the Lord. The ingredients of these stones are pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth, etc.
As long as we have the desire to find the Lord, then we already have overcome many obstacles. The Lord has helped us and will continue to help us roll away many stones along our life journey. He may put family members and some friends along our life journey whose mission is to help us find the Lord.
Nevertheless, the search for God is a continuous process and must be maintained throughout our whole life. Learning from the example set by these holy women, we must always have a holy preoccupation about finding the Lord, a preoccupation which will make us industrious and diligent in seeking Him. We can find the Lord when we read the Bible, when we pray, when we participate in religious activities, when we humbly serve the least of our brothers, etc. At the same time, be confident of the divine aid, since the Lord will take care of us and will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
The same story of getting divine help when finding the Lord also repeated itself with some variations at the beginning of the Lord’s earthly life. The Magi, like Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, also had a keen desire to find the Lord but they did not know the whereabouts of the new born king. Not knowing where exactly the new born king was did not deter them from proceeding with their plan because they too, like the faithful women, were too much taken up with the desire of finding Jesus. They followed the divine help of a star and eventually found the Lord.
As long as we have the keen desire to find Him like the Magi, and like the faithful women, He will help us roll away the stones in our souls that have prevented us from finding Him, just like about two thousand years ago, He asked people to take away the stone that was at the entrance of the tomb of Lazarus. ( John 11: 39 ) After the stone had been taken out, He shouted loudly, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus came out at His command and regained his life. ( John 11: 43 - 44 ) One day, we will hear Him shouting our names loudly outside our tombs, “Paul, come out! Joseph, come out! Maria, come out! Cristina, come out! Cierra, come out! Luba, come out! Christine, come out! Marta, come out!”
And with a new and everlasting life, we will come out just like how He did on the first Easter.