It’s true. It’s all true. Christ is risen!
That’s the only that needs to be said today. In some ways it’s the only thing that can be said. That Jesus has been raised from the dead is the only thing I really have to tell you today. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s the same thing the angel told the two women who went to Jesus’ tomb. He didn’t tell them once but twice. “He is not here; he has been raised.” “He has been raised from the dead.” It was true. They saw Jesus. They touched him. They heard his voice. It was all true.
St. Matthew doesn’t offer much more than that in his account of the gospel (Matthew 28:1-10). He does not explain how it happened, only that it did. He is more interested in us living the truth of this story than he is in us knowing the details of the story. The truth of this story, as he tells it, is earth shaking. It changes the ground on which we stand and the way in which we live.
Every year I come to this day wanting only one thing. I want to be told and reminded that the story is true, that it can be trusted, that it is a reality in my life. I suspect that’s what you also want and why you are here today.
Why do I say that? Why do I come here every year wanting to be reminded the story is true? Why do I think that’s what you want?
Because a couple of weeks ago I was the priest at a funeral for a seventeen week stillborn child. Because early last week I talked and prayed with a women who was going to sit and wait at the bedside of her dying mother. Because a few days ago one of my very best friends called and told me his dad’s surgery had not gone well. They discontinued life support on Thursday. Because I have experienced the pain and devastation of Holy Week in the liturgies of the Church and in the circumstances of my life.
That’s why I come here today wanting to be reminded this story is true. And you know what? I never leave here disappointed. I always leave here knowing that the truth of Easter – life, light, joy, hope – is greater than the truth of what brought me here.
And I don’t for one minute think this is only about me. I think you know exactly what I am talking about. I don’t think you are any different from me. Every one of you could name a darkness you have faced over the last year. Some of you are today sitting in the midst of darkness. I may not know what your darkness is or has been but I know it’s real.
That’s why I think you come here today wanting to be told and reminded that this story is true. And you know what? You came to the right place. You will not leave here disappointed. The angel’s message to the women in today’s gospel is the Church’s message to us today. “He has been raised from the dead.” It is still true.
The story is true. You can count on it. It’s for you and your life. It was true yesterday, it is true today, and it will be true tomorrow. Sometimes it takes months or even years for resurrection to free us from the tomb and pull us out of the darkness but it will. That is the promise of today. God never leaves anyone in the darkness of the tomb.
The stone has been rolled away from the tomb. The day dawns with a new light. The earth quakes in celebration and joy. Christ is risen and in him so have you and I.
That’s why this place is filled with light, candles, flowers, and alleluias. Those are not just decorations and songs, they are God’s truth about your life and my life. They are the signs of Easter truth and resurrection reality.
That truth and reality will be expressed in just a few moments when we baptize Emily, Davis, and Amelia. I want you to look at the beauty of their faces and the innocence of their lives. Lose yourself in the wonder, awe, and miracle of creation and human life. See all the potential, possibilities, and discoveries that lay before them. Name and offer your best prayers, thoughts, hopes, and joys for their lives.
What you will see, name, and do is the truth of Easter in their lives. That truth is as real for you as it is for them. Their baptisms will mirror for us Easter truth in our own lives. The only reason we can baptize those three children is because it really did happen. “He has been raised from the dead.”
Today reminds us that the light of resurrection always prevails. Darkness cannot overcome the light. Regardless of who you are, the light prevails. Regardless of what you have done or left undone, the light prevails. Regardless of your doubts or beliefs, the light prevails. Regardless of your life’s circumstances, the light prevails. I can’t tell you how it happens but I know it does. The light of resurrection always wins. Everything about today says we can trust that.
That changes everything about how we live. We now live everyday as Easter. Christ’s resurrection is not a one day celebration. It is a way of life. It means every cross flowers with new life, every tomb becomes a womb of new birth, and every darkness has been overcome by light.
It’s true. It’s still true. Christ is risen!
Holy Week Sermons