This Side of the Empty Tomb
Happy Easter! What a privilege it was for me to celebrate the Triduum at St Benedict in Falcon. It is amazing to see a parish that is so rich with dedicated volunteers. It was great to be with them. I also had a wonderful Easter Sunday morning at St Mary’s Cathedral before offering Mass at UCCS for my small yet mighty group of students there. One Easter prayer: that the college students will begin to exhibit the same loyalty to campus ministry that people show to their parishes. Building a stable community is vital to growth.
There is nothing more extraordinary than living on this side of the empty tomb, this side of the Resurrection. All of creation has been redeemed by the sacrifice of Calvary, and that certainly includes us. For the next fifty days, we will reflect and pray on the great victory that God has won for us. We celebrate with great joy the fact that Jesus gave His life for each and every one of us.
We have been redeemed, and yet how easy it is to live as if we are still living with the heavy expectation of a Savior, still struggling to survive in what some call a fallen and corrupted world. Yes, living the life of one redeemed can be challenging, but so often we reject the message of the Resurrection without even realizing it.
Easter is a time for us to reflect on our call to greatness, the fact that Jesus has given us all every grace and gift we need to seek perfection, to reach for Heaven, which should be our ultimate goal. Yet at times, what a challenge that is! It can become far easier for us to blame our struggles and sins on the challenges of the world than to simply admit that we don’t always live as though we have been redeemed.
We see this all around us. We see it in a world that is comfortable being spiritual but uneasy being religious, a world threatened by authority and some times afraid to confront the truth or to even admit there is such a thing as truth. We see it in a world that finds it easier to focus on helping those we like or those with whom we are comfortable grow in holiness while ignoring the faces of the sick, spiritually deprived, and lonely in our midst. We see it a world that abhors the terrible brutality of abortion but forgets about the dignity of the imprisoned, the immigrant, the elderly, the poor, and the mentally ill. We see this in world where soccer games have replaced the Eucharist as the primary Sunday activities, where bringing our children to religious education, taking time to pray with them at home, and bringing them to Mass can simply become too difficult, and we so easily accept that it’s “normal” for our young adults to stop coming to Mass, at least until they are ready to get married or seek the baptism of a child.
But there is hope! The world often stands as a challenging contradiction to all that we seek to hold dear. Yet, Jesus has conquered the world. Extraordinary things are happening every time we come to this Church, every time we become living tabernacles and carry the Lord in to the world in which we live. The Lord has already done the most difficult part. It is He who has redeemed us.
During the Easter season, we are called to spend some serious time asking the question, “Do I live as though I have been redeemed?” Empowered by the Holy Spirit, strengthened and nourished by the Sacraments, we have the ability to do great things. Jesus rose to give us hope, and as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI whose 90th birthday was Easter Sunday, reminds us: people who live with hope live differently. Empowered by the grace of the Eucharist, we are transformed. We can’t forget how powerful this truly is, and we dare not take it for granted. If we don’t live as people redeemed embracing the friendship Jesus seeks to cultivate in each one of our hearts, then maybe we have forgotten on which side of the empty tomb we live, and we have missed the point of Easter altogether!