All around us, nature is rejoicing. The grass is green, the leaves are coming out on the trees, flowers are blooming — and thank God – the temperature is not soaring yet! We have looked forward to putting on our new suit or new dress for this holiday, of celebrating egg hunts in the afternoon, and having a great time with family members. We are also glad the season of Lent is finished so we can go back to eating chocolate (or drinking wine ;-). However, the reason we assemble in the holy church on Easter Sunday is not to celebrate winter’s end, or to show off our new suit or dress, or even to eat chocolate and drink wine (as much as we look forward to these things). These things, though good, are mere background shadows to the real reason we celebrate Easter Sunday. We celebrate the greatest miracle of all time — the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
While we all believe this (and we attest to this belief in the renewal of our baptismal promises in the Mass), a question that we must ask ourselves is this: What difference does the resurrection of Jesus Christ make in my life? At some point, the weather will change, we will outgrow our clothes, and chocolate and wine can only give so much pleasure (and a headache the next morning if we have too much). What difference does the Risen Christ make in my life? If Jesus is risen, it means God is not dead. So why do we treat Him that way sometimes? Our Lord is not like our iPhone that we can put on “Do Not Disturb” mode. He is with us always. There is the temptation of wanting to put Jesus in a nice, neat box — that box I open on Christmas and Easter. Or if I am practicing my faith, I put Jesus in a box that I open on Sundays.
The point of the Resurrection is that Jesus lives — and not in just some nice, abstract way “in our hearts” — but that He is a real Person (the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) who wants a real, personal relationship with each and every one of us. The whole reason for rolling back the stone was so that He did not just become a pleasant memory, but that Jesus could give us His living presence here and now. Like St. Peter, St. John, St. Mary Magdalene, and Our Lady, Jesus relates to each of us in a unique way. He knows all our life experiences; He knows our strengths and weaknesses; He knows our sins, our hurts, our feelings, and our relationships (both good and broken). On this Easter Sunday, let us give thanks to the Lord for the gift of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. If you have been away from the Church, recommit your life to Him, to being cognizant of His presence, so that His resurrection may not be a nice memory but a personal reality.
Reflection by Fr. Nolan Lowry, STL, pastor of St. Leo the Great Parish in Centerville, Texas.