A day filled with great joy

Easter Sunday at the Cathedral of St. Paul

On March 31, Bishop Raica celebrated Easter Sunday at the Cathedral of St. Paul. The complete text of his homily follows herein.

Christ is Risen, He is truly Risen! My sisters and brothers, on this Easter Sunday we come together to celebrate as a faith family the extraordinary event of Christ’s resurrection. An amazing thing has occurred! Even the Gospel accounts of the resurrection marvel at what seems impossible and unreal according to our logic. Christ was dead! Now He’s alive! 

First, the grieving women see the empty tomb. It says, “They saw and believed!” Then, in time, and we will hear those stories over the course of the next few weeks, when others will see Him. Sometimes they are confused, they don’t know Who He is. Mary, one of Jesus’ friends, comes by the tomb to pay respect, and sees a man whom she believes to be the gardener. And then He says her name, “Mary,” and her mind is awakened to the fact that Jesus is alive. She has to run to tell the others: “I saw Him!”

Then, our Lord starts appearing all over the place. To the two men on the road to Emmaus – an evocative reading of despair that takes on new meaning when the stranger who joins them at the end, sits down at table and takes the bread, gives thanks, and breaks the bread. Their eyes were opened because they heard those words before from our Lord. It was Him again. They had to run back to tell the other disciples, “We have seen the Lord!”

Peter and his companions are fishing all night on the Sea of Galilee. Again, they hadn’t caught anything, and a stranger was there on the seashore asking if they had caught anything. Nothing. Lower your nets for a catch, and their nets were full to the breaking point. They recognized it was the Lord and Peter jumps into the water and swims to shore ahead of the others. They knew it was Him. On the seashore, there was already a fire on the beach with a roasted fish cooking on it. It was Him again.

Thomas was not present when the Lord came, so he said he would not believe unless he examined the wounds and put his hand in the wounds of Jesus’ side and his finger in the wounds in His hands. Then, when they were together the next time, Jesus came through the locked door and invited Thomas to do so. He was literally bowled over and could only exclaim “My Lord, My God!” His doubt has inspired many over the years to believe in Christ risen from the dead. 

These stories and events continue down to this very day. The Lord is appearing even today to those who believe. I believe with all my heart similar things are happening today. Oftentimes, we are so distracted that we cannot see Him or hear Him, but it is as though he’s shouting to us through creation itself; through something beautiful that we see in nature or in a work of art or in music or in sports or through an unexpected gesture of love; through the many things that are said that simply go over our heads. Jesus is there trying to communicate with us.

Of course, in our sacramental system, we believe Christ is present, especially in the Eucharist in an extraordinary way as a form of spiritual sustenance and grace, or in the sacrament of penance as we are forgiven of our sins. During this Eucharistic Revival year, may we take stock of the Lord’s presence among us. Some go to adoration and have been truly blessed by the Lord. Others have a greater appreciation for Mass because what we receive today – is Christ! He is with us and comes to us to transform us from the inside out and carry His presence to others we meet along the way, who may be needing a sign of hope today.

We also renew our baptismal faith today, rejecting sin and Satan and professing our faith in the Trinity, especially acknowledging Christ among us again. May our day today be filled with great joy! May God bless you all! Christ is Risen, indeed!