A very happy Easter to everyone! Today we join countless millions who have celebrated this most glorious and miraculous event–He is risen, my friends! Truly He is risen! That was the exciting proclamation that Peter shared first in Jerusalem, that St. Paul shared in Judea and Samaria, and that we are called to share to the ends of the earth. He is risen! Death could not hold him! They put him to death but God raised him up! It was said of those first disciples, “You could beat them, you could whip them, you could stone them, and you could kill them, but you could not make them deny that on the third day he rose again!” And here we are, praising what God has done–reconciling the world to himself through the death and resurrection of his only begotten son, so that all who believe in him might not perish but have eternal life. That’s Good News. We should live it.
I think there is much by way of how we live it given in the example of Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome. Salome, you might remember is the mother of James and John, the fisherman and sons of Zebedee–referred to by Jesus as “the Sons of Thunder.” Interesting right? James and John are referred to as either the Sons of Zebedee (their father) or as the Sons of Thunder (Salome). Salome had spirit! You remember that she was the one who approached Jesus and said, “Command that these sons of mine sit at your right and your left in your Kingdom.” (MT 20:21) I love it. She knows Jesus. She is courageous. And she lives the good news.
On this Easter Sunday, we can look closely at the actions of these women and find for ourselves who we are called to be, and what we are called to do. They were irresponsibly optimistic, one hundred percent committed, and faithfully obedient Catholics.
They were irresponsibly optimistic because they went out, spent a bunch of money on spices so they could anoint Jesus, got up very early in the morning–before daylight–and started right to the tomb even though they knew they had no way of even getting in! They didn’t have anyone to roll the stone back! God proved that even though they didn’t have a way, that doesn’t mean that God couldn’t provide a way. I think we should live more like that: optimistic, expectant, always knowing that God is going to to something great to glorify His name!
Secondly, they were committed. When they looked up and saw that very large stone rolled back they could have walked right back home and said, “No way! I don’t know what’s going on. I’m outta here.” But they didn’t. Instead they went right into the tomb to find the Lord. Their goal was to find the Lord and to anoint him, and nothing and no one was going to stop them. I like that. They were willing to enter the grave to encounter Jesus. That sort of commitment is hard to find today. As Jesus’ disciples, we too need to commit to serving him in the poor, the marginalized, the homeless and the helpless–and we can’t let anyone or anything get in our way.
Finally, they were faithfully obedient Catholics. Did you notice that the angel told the women, “Go and tell his disciples and Peter.” That’s interesting, right? Wasn’t Peter one of Jesus’ disciples like all the rest? Clearly, he is not. He was a disciple called to a particular role to lead the disciples on earth. Peter knew it, that angel knew it, the other disciples knew it, and the women knew it too. Though many Christians today would deny it, we do not. We stand alongside these faith-filled women, and are obedient to Christ’s vicar on earth, the Pope.
The angel told these women to “go and tell,” and because they did, and others did after them, and others after them, this Gospel was written, preserved, and proclaimed! For upwards of 70 generations parents have told their children that our Savior is Risen, and his vicar on earth preserves the authenticity of that witness. If you are here today because you heard the Good News of Christ’s rising, that he is both Savior and Lord, and that he founded the Holy Roman Catholic Church upon Peter, the Rock, take the time today to say a prayer for the person who shared that beautiful message with you. If they are still alive, thank them in person.
On this wonderful Easter Sunday, I want to encourage all of us to be irresponsibly optimistic at all times, commit yourself and your family to Christian service, and be faithfully obedient to the Church and its teachings, and to our Pope. In a time where it is increasingly popular to be negative, look out only for oneself, and to throw off authority and leadership, we remain committed to a positive, optimistic attitude, to service to others, and obedience the Church, to the Pope, and to our Risen Lord. Happy Easter. He is risen! Truly, he is risen! Go live that Good News with the whole world.