He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Blessed Easter to you and to all your families! I am Fr. Matthew Morelli, Parochial Vicar of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg.
Today we celebrate Jesus' Resurrection from the dead, and today's focus is on transformation, of passing from death to new life. Jesus, undergoing a transformation from death in the tomb to new life in His risen and glorified Body. Jesus' disciples, undergoing transformation from sadness and fear to surprise and joy at the news of the empty tomb. But even for us as Jesus' disciples today, our Easter celebration is about transformation. The good news of the Gospel today must also transform our hearts and our lives, as though we also had the opportunity to sprint alongside Peter and John to the empty tomb, or to be in the upper room with the Apostles when Jesus appeared to them (cf. Jn. 20:1–9; Jn. 20:19–23).
Liturgically, we have prayed fervently in Lent and remembered the suffering and death of Jesus; along with these, we have been taking on acts of penance and almsgiving. We were "giving something up" for Lent, then taking from that and "giving something to" someone else as an act of charity. That might have been money, food, or time. But the news of the Risen Christ should not mark the end of that time of prayer or charity–only that it now is transformed. We don't stop praying or acting charitably toward others now that Easter has come! Instead, our focus has been transformed from making reparation for our sins into giving thanks that Jesus' Resurrection means new life for us, both now and in eternity!
Another part of this transformation is about learning from what we experienced in our time of penance during Lent and allowing our actions to be transformed. For example, if you gave up chocolate for Lent, now that Easter has come, enjoy it while giving thanks to God for overseeing the creation of something that is so wonderful! If you gave up social media, perhaps ease back into it as a way of showing love for others and to give witness to God's goodness in your life. On the other hand, if you realized that the thing that you gave up for Lent had formerly been taking you away from God and from others and preventing you from loving them as you should (or worse, it was something that was a temptation to sin), then it would be better to keep it away. It's not keeping it away as continued penance, but keeping it away as a concrete decision to love God and others instead of ourselves–as a chance to be transformed in holiness. This is what St. Paul means when he speaks about "clearing out the old yeast" of "malice and wickedness" (I Cor. 5:6b-8); he speaks of cutting out those parts of our old life that keep us from living full lives of love and sincerity and truth toward God and one another. This was also a part of the ongoing transformation that Jesus' disciples experienced beginning on the first Easter.
Hold this message of the Good News of Jesus' Resurrection in your hearts through this season and let it transform you! We are blessed to continue to watch this transformation in the lives of Jesus' disciples in the readings from the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles in the upcoming weeks. We also are blessed to have a tiny summary of it all in our Sequence for today, the
Victimae Paschali Laudes, the brief hymn sung before our Gospel. Let it sink into your minds and hearts and be transformed! Most of all, allow that message to be the cause of your joy. Jesus is risen–He is risen, indeed–Alleluia!
By: Father Matthew J. Morelli, Parochial Vicar, Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish, Greensburg