Easter Sunday 2023


Easter Sunday 2023

The resurrection opened up the possibility for humanity to enter the life of God, and the text encourages the reader to open themselves up to the power of Christ, who is alive and present. Jesus Christ can change people’s lives if they make themselves available to His power.

Easter Sunday

Welcome to our celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Christianity celebrates the event two thousand years ago, on April the 9th year 30 according to the calculations, in a far remote province of the Roman Empire, today we would say God forsaken place where no one wanted to go and do one’s own military mission. Something unheard of happened that changed radically the history of humanity. There was a man who was put to death.

According to many, he was a self-styled prophet, a rabbi, a teacher, and also a Healer for many through whom great Powers were at work. But he was inconvenient. He was a problematic guy who fought outside of the box and taught things that were completely impolitically correct, wrong according to the standards of the time. And so, as the Jewish authorities decided it is better for one man to die rather than the whole nation to be squashed under the heavy Fist of the Roman Empire, they killed him. They Crucified him, which was at death only for those who are not Romans because it was ignominious, humiliating, degrading way of making someone go through literally hell on Earth. And it looked like everything was closed, nothing else would happen; we got rid of the problem. But then unexpectedly, historically speaking, not as the mythology would say or a Pious story that would circulate, but concretely, this man was raised, raised by God. Now, we can ask, how can we even know it is not an invention? Believe it or not, the studies of different people for 2,000 years ago, reading different sources, even non-biblical sources, the historic sources bring to our attention that yes, there was a rabbi, there was a man called Jesus who, surprisingly to everyone, was killed, and yet he changed the lives of many. How can we explain that? Today’s Gospel is one of those reasons, proves ways of dealing with that event because when Peter and John went to the tomb, we find out that they entered and they saw the burial Claws and further on that, there was a cloth that covered his head.

Think about a mummy that is wrapped up with the bands according to Jewish burial customs. Ointment was applied, and the person was placed in the tomb completely unable to get out. However, what would happen if the burial clothes, including the shroud, contain no air inside?

If you read about the Shroud of Turin, which is on display in Turin, Italy, the latest technological studies show that the body evaporated from that cocoon due to a powerful solar energy. As if Jesus went through the cloth. Humanly speaking, it’s difficult to explain how Christ came out of that enclosed shroud. More scientific studies of this 2000-year-old shroud show not only the marks of beatings that Jesus received and the cruelty he endured, but also a powerful energy that pushed him out of the cloth. Who could have fabricated that?

This Easter morning, on 10th April 2023, we celebrate that Jesus came back to life and entered the life of God. His resurrection has the power of entering the life of each and every one of us, in accordance with our openness, availability, his design and will. The disciples were locked in cynical, fearful, and completely struck by the traumatic experience of Jesus’s death. But Christ came to them, because at that stage, he could walk through walls and be in different places at the same time, as he is in God and with us. Christ opened for us heaven, a dimension that we didn’t even know existed. It’s like for years, people thought that the Earth was flat, but now we know it’s round.

When John entered the tomb, he saw and believed, which means he believed that everything Jesus spoke about was true. At that moment, Jesus’s spirit entered John’s heart and convinced him from within that there is only one truth that he can lean his life on, the power of Christ, who is risen and alive now. There hasn’t been greater news in the history of humanity than to receive the gift of faith in the power of the resurrection that is at work and can change each one of us.

We are just human beings, confined to the biology of this world, stuck in space and time, going through sickness, battles, uncertainties, and afflictions. But there is someone else above, Jesus, who is risen and alive now. That’s the fundamental proclamation that we are called to hear today and now, and to ask for this gift of faith to penetrate our lives. This gift is given to us and cannot just be invented or become a trend.

Knowing that Christ is alive, divinely present, ten brothers and sisters at that stage, He walks into one’s own life and can change it completely, break any chains of sin, addiction, enslavement, or any situation of pain. Many of us struggle, go through hardships, and maybe even question the meaning of this life. But the answer comes: Christ is alive, welcome Him, invite Him, make your life available for His power.

After the resurrection, He did not appear to the Roman soldiers who crucified Him. He didn’t go to Caesar in Rome, saying “here I am,” nor to Caiaphas nor Pilate, only to the chosen ones, as if to say it’s up to our disposition. If Christ finds an open door, He can change your life.

During the Easter Vigil, we read the gospel from Matthew, and there is a sequence of events that really perplexed me deeply this year. When the angel descended, and the great earthquake took place as we hear, He rolled out the stone and sat on it. The soldiers who were regarding the tomb remained as if dead, but the women were given an announcement: “do not be afraid.” For some people, the arrival of the messenger from a different world creates a dead-like experience, while for others, like the women who came early in the morning to the tomb, it was the greatest of all possible news. The angel told them, “do not be afraid.” Throughout this season of Easter and beyond, we hear, “do not be afraid.”

We are living this concrete historical fact. For the Jews, when they celebrate the Passover, the event of the passing from the slavery of Egypt to the promised land of the people of Israel, they use an important word called “zikaron,” which is a sacred word for the Jews meaning a memorial. It’s happening now every time it’s being celebrated, as if to say, God is at work powerfully with His hand, delivering, saving, pulling out those who want to pass from fear, hopelessness, and despair to life, joy, happiness, and peace. Their hearts are being changed and transformed.

In a few minutes, we will hear the word “zikaron” as we celebrate the Eucharistic part. “Do this in memory,” that’s the word “memory,” not memory of a past event. We are meant to pause for a few moments and reflect on the memory passing in the spirit means happening now. We believe that Jesus Christ, being alive, is present, active right now, and comes to us, and the resurrection is happening right now, this very day. Do you believe it? Do I believe it? Do I make an ascent to that in a real way?

Now, how can this event of the resurrection reach me today, a man of the 21st century living in this concrete historical, socio-political setting filled with lots of unrest, issues, and problems? As if those problems were not big enough, if you study and find out how the life of Jesus and His society was under the Roman Empire, you would be truly saddened.

It was a very rough, difficult, harsh, and unforgiving society where people were crucified left and right. And then the Lord comes and says, “Do not be afraid,” but how? How can we not be afraid when all those things that are completely overpowering us? We are stronger than any event of death, but how can we truly believe that?

For this Resurrection to reach you and me, two things are important. For those who, like the women, Peter, John, and the disciples, witnessed it, number one is to renounce evil, Satan, sin. We make the renunciation during this celebration, which creates a space in our lives where Christ can enter and be active and powerful. Right after the renunciation, we welcome Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior. Saying “I want you, Jesus, to save me from…” fills in the blank for each of us. Deliver me from hatred, arrogance, despair, what is oppressing me today.

If there is faith in this proclamation and in this renewal, it has a huge power because Christ makes himself present to us. It’s a zikaron, the memorial where the Lord arrives in our lives. At that stage, no one will be overtaken by fear.

Let’s look at our lives – so much uncertainty about tomorrow, our health, our families, our children. But if we let Jesus conquer this fear, he will tell us inside, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I am here present for you, and I love you eternally and perpetually.”

That’s the most important thing we celebrate today – Christ is risen, he’s alive, and now, in a measure that we are united with him, cleaving to him, clinging to him, opening our heart to him, he can enter and change our lives. Amen.

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