We gather together here at Church to bask in the light of Christ, to, as Fr. Greg said on Thursday, to be amazed by God’s generosity, to be amazed at the gift of our lives.
Because tonight we celebrate the greatest night of all time… and if you believe as I believe, that is not hyperbole. It’s not hyperbole because sometime after sunset and before the dawn, Jesus… God who took on our humanity to teach us by word and example and to die that we might be saved… rose from the dead and left the tomb. It is amazing!
Tonight, death is conquered, so that we might have eternal life.
In our beautiful readings, we get to review our Salvation, from the beginning of time… when God created the heavens and earth and light to cover the darkness. God created every living thing… and amazingly making us in God’s very image, after God’s likeness… male and female… God created us blessing us with the fullness of life… and the fullness of freedom.
And God, looking out on all creation, on the abundance of it all, God… found it very good.
And yet sometimes (a little too often for me)… we use our freedom to choose darkness, we choose to use our freedom to deny God. Our freedom is meant for us to choose God, to choose love! Yet… too often many choose evil – racism and sexism, fear and violence, and some even choose death over life.
But the Good News is, the Good News that we have heard all night tonight, the Good News is that our failure cannot extinguish God’s light… God’s affection for us. That is why tonight we are reminded of God’s constant love for all of creation, for all our humanity.
In the story of the Exodus, God calls the people out from the indignity of slavery and oppression, protecting them and leading them (and us) to the fullness of life… to the fullness of freedom in the Promised Land.
In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, we hear an invitation to Grace… Isaiah tells us to seek the Lord and to expect the mercy of a God whose “ways” are completely mysterious… and amazingly generous.
And so tonight on this final day of this Holy Week, as we celebrate the final chapter in our salvation, let us take a moment to think and to observe the people who were with Jesus during his final days and look at how they used the freedom that God endowed on us. What would we do in their place?
There is the woman with the perfumed oil who chose to generously anoint Jesus… even though some others were indignant and made trouble for her.
Jesus tells us that he is the least among us. Would I choose to anoint Jesus in the homeless street person?
Then there is Peter, acquiescent towards his Master in having his feet washed… the same Peter who chose to deny knowing him three times while Jesus was tried.
Jesus tells us that he is the least among us. Would I deny knowing someone because I am afraid or embarrassed to be with them?
There are the High Priests who chose to demand his execution.
Jesus tells us that he is the least among us. Do I choose to participate in the struggle to eliminate capital punishment and reform prisons?
There are the disciples who in cowardice chose to hide in fear, unwilling to risk acknowledging Jesus.
Jesus tells us that he is the least among us. There are many who are ignored or disregarded because we are afraid of what others might say.
Am I willing to risk acknowledging Jesus in an addict, in a baby in the womb? In an LGBT person? In a foreigner at the border?
Christ is risen! Christ is Truly Risen!
And It must make a difference in me!
Then there were the three woman who with courage chose to watch at a short distance during the crucifixion… and three days later, they are the ones to whom Jesus’ resurection is first revealed because they had the courage to go to the tomb, and they are amazed and they will run, they will run to tell the others.
Jesus Christ is risen!
How about us? Are we amazed by the saving action of Jesus’s passion and death, of his resurrection?
Do we live expecting God’s mercy and grace?
Do we acknowledge every person is created in the image and likeness of God?
Are we willing to put chaos away by embracing love?
Are we willing to see Jesus in others? In all others?
Can we risk others seeing Jesus in us?
This is the day of rejoicing, Christ has come, Christ’s mercy is her for each of us,
Christ is risen! He is Truly Risen!
Let us run and tell the others!
[Editor’s Note: With gratitude to Maria, a reader, who heard this homily at the Easter Vigil and recommended it for our blog. Thanks, Maria. And thanks Deacon Fred for your words and willingness to share them!]