For a neophyte preacher like me, to stand and deliver on Easter Sunday, the homecoming of Catholics, is one of the most difficult days in the liturgical calendar not only because people’s expectations are so high and almost out of reach but also because they’re too preoccupied and surely, have something going on immediately after the Mass. It is Easter and no ordinary day. To celebrate the central teaching of the Christian Faith, has always been a record breaking attendance. Churchgoers though have all sorts of reasons for coming to Mass. Maybe, for some, a strong sense of obligation and an intense feeling of guilt for not showing up for years. Others just want to check in the church, bring their children, meet other members, hit the road after communion and go party. But, truly, a huge number of people belong to the so -called Catholic CEO (Christmas and Easter Only). These are mostly the ones who attend Mass and come back on December. And so, after the final blessing, the Presider says the dismissal as best and as charitably as he can, with a one- liner adlib, The Mass is ended. I will see you who knows when.
When he walks to the center aisle on the day Christ triumphed over sin and death, believe it or not, he is still guessing whether his crafted sermon would work to a standing room only congregation who cannot wait to get out of the church. I hope the CEO thing didn’t offend anybody nor gave the impression that the message sounded like a super bowl commercial whereby people for the most part remembered the humor and not the product advertised. I thought I spoke by heart. As you know, prophecy is part of my job description, in word and in deed. And it simply meant, blowing the whistle and use words if necessary. It took me a great deal of time contemplating on the sacred novelty and translating it into a language that will speak to the lives of people who missed going to the church for some quite years. For a Pastor, the exercise of prudence, deep patience, a gentle touch of compassion and tenderness of affection play a significant role if he wants to see them next week. But, Easter isn’t only a story of reunion but the passionate proclamation of the life-changing power of Christ that’s possible only when we turn our lives around. It is unmistakably clear that the Gospel this morning from the first nine verses of the twentieth chapter of John displays a resurrection account as a web complex of emotion. It is a moment of surprise, excitement, belief and maybe, confusion.
Easter is the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox which goes without saying that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is deeply associated with the greening of the earth, the spring cleaning of souls and a sign of a new beginning, a fresh start in life, so to speak. The renewal of baptismal promises which takes place after the homily, will once again remind us of our true identity. In the rite, we will reject the power of Satan, the spirit of evil, that puts us into the worst kind of bondage and thereby, profess our most sacred and profound belief in a Trinitarian God. In so doing, we’re making a public statement that we will lead lives faithful to the Gospel, to the Catholic tradition and to the Magisterium, which comprise the deposit of faith. Amen.