Bishop Sullivan’s Easter Sunday homily


Easter Sunday 2013


“This is the day the Lord has made, Let us be glad and rejoice in it”


Neither goodness nor rejoicing were experienced by Mary Magdalene as she went three days after the death and burial of Jesus to visit His place of burial.

In today’s gospel, Saint John reports “it was still dark.” Yes, the darkness before the sun rises but also the darkness in Mary’s heart and soul, darkness due to the circumstances of the death of Jesus. She saw the stone removed from the tomb. With a heavy heart she ran to Peter, of course, Peter. The man Jesus had put in charge of the group. Peter went running to the tomb accompanied by the youngest of their little group, the one who faithfully stood by Jesus’ cross until the end, the one whom Jesus loved. They enter the tomb; they saw the burial cloths folded neatly. They believed.

Alleluia! He is risen as He said, Alleluia!       This Easter Sunday is not an anniversary of that first Easter morning. Nor, is this Easter a memorial – a remembrance of that first Easter Sunday morning.  Today is Easter.  Today is the Day the Lord has made.  Today, He is Risen.  Pay attention sisters and brothers to those present tense words Today is Easter – This is the Day, they need to be heard by us. We are not recalling what happened to Jesus, nor the events of the first Easter. We are not spectators watching the reactions of the three disciples – Mary Magdalene, Peter and John.  Rather, this Easter Sunday is our sharing in the triumph and victory of God.  As the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “Let Him Easter in us.”  Let that victory and triumph touch our lives.  Today, Now.  Let our gathering in church this Easter Sunday refresh and renew us with the Joy and the Triumph that emanates from Christ whom no tomb could hold in death. We rise with Him. It began in the waters of Baptism and we rise with Him by Faith, in Him whose light shines brighter than any darkness in us or out there we rise with Him; whose gladness destroys any sadness that comes into our lives.  Christ, our Hope is Risen Alleluia. Let Him Easter in us.

An Ancient Christian symbol for Christ is the anchor. The anchor steadies the vessel; the anchor safely holds the vessel in the boat. Christ holds us steady when life gets rough. Christ holds us connected to God when the waves of life come crashing over us.  Christ our Hope is Risen. Let Him Easter in us.

We can rise out of whatever in life deals us death because we have been joined to Christ’s resurrection through Baptism and now by Faith.  We can rise out of our own sins with the power of Christ’s resurrection in us. We can rise out of any darkness with the light of Christ’s resurrection in us. We can rise out of any bondage that holds us with the freedom of Christ’s resurrection in us. Passing from death to life.  Jesus Christ, and, we passing over with Him.

It is Easter for us struggling, sinful human beings for whom Christ died on the cross to rise to life with God.  His death and His resurrection fill us with hope and keeps us steady and safe.

His rising opens for us our rising out of those tombs which may trap us. His victory over death is our victory over all the dying we do while we live.

On this Easter morning, let us listen to the preaching of Saint Peter in the house of Cornelius, a Roman soldier, as reported in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. To Cornelius and his family, non-believers, Peter preaches and teaches.  Let us enter that house and hear what Peter says – Jesus is the anointed one — the Christ — the Savior.  The promise of God. “They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.  God raised Him on the third day.” This is the third day.  Today, our God who transformed the death of Jesus by his glorious resurrection can transform our experiences of dying.  Saint Paul urges us in the second reading to see our lives through this prism of transformation that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let that prism reflect God’s love to us.  Dispense God’s love in us — show us that we are so loved by God that He sent us a Savior who hung on a tree but who is raised to life.

Let Easter bring new life to all of us despite whatever catastrophe we may face in the world or in our own personal situations. Let Him Easter in Us.  Let this Easter celebration break open our tombs of fear, sin, worries, difficulties, problems, and fill us with Hope – with life. Let Christ Easter in YOU TODAY.