Easter – April 9, 2023

This is the day the Lord has made!   …  Welcome to our Cathedral Church. Welcome to our faithful parishioners and our entire Catholic family who join with relatives and friends to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus – the foundation of our faith.  Welcome also to our brothers and sisters from other Christian communities and faith traditions.  And a special welcome to our Jewish friends who honor us with your presence as you celebrate Passover during these very days. 

Join me in giving thanks for 146 catechumens and candidates, who listened to the voice of the risen Lord speaking to their hearts and said yes to God’s call to be baptized and received into full communion in the Catholic Church.  Here in our Cathedral Parish, Ruiwen Su was baptized, and he along with Ashleigh Kuester were confirmed and received the Holy Eucharist for the first time.   How blest we are by their response to the Lord’s call to walk with us in faith. 

My friends, it is good that we are here together.  For just a brief time this evening, all of us have been given the blest opportunity to step apart from our frenetic and complicated lives and world to be quiet, to pray and to encounter our risen Lord.  While this moment speaks our lives in different ways, at its heart is the one reality that gives us hope as Christians.  Jesus is risen and we, God’s people, pass from death the life, resurrection and peace.

The challenge that we face, however, is that at the end of this Mass, we will return to the mundane yet often unsettled reality of our lives.  While I pray that these Easter days are filled with joyful moments and reasons to celebrate and give thanks, we’ll undoubtedly be faced with sobering realities.  In just the past few weeks alone, we’ve learned of devastating earthquakes – severe weather ravaging far too many areas of our land – school shootings that have shattered the security and peace that every child should enjoy – and a senseless war in Ukraine that has raged on for over a year.  And many of us upon leaving this haven of peace will return to our homes to face our own stories of suffering, loss and grief.   

While we’re blessed with this moment of prayer and peace, the best of us can wonder where the risen Jesus is to be found in the face of such pain.  …  Where is the vindication of Easter Sunday?  …  Where do we look to find the risen Lord once we go forth in peace at the end of this Mass?

I’d suggest that we look first to the mission of Jesus.  …  Look to the pattern of his life that found him immersed in the suffering and pain of our world, bringing God’s healing and mercy not to the self-righteous but to sinners like you and me, to those who were on the margins of life, to the suffering poor, the rejected and broken who simply sought a way forward in life and who knew that their only hope was in God.  …  And look to the message of the scriptures that have been proclaimed during this past Holy Week – stories that found Jesus caring for his people to the end – leaving the legacy of his very life in the Holy Eucharist – teaching us that our true treasure in life is not found in what we take as our own but in what we give away through our service of those given to our care; a lesson that ultimately led Jesus to the cross to suffer and die in order to save us when we could not save ourselves.  

In short, brothers and sisters, out of love for our broken, hurting and confused world, Jesus took on our humanity and gave his life that we might be given a way forward through his resurrection.  Yet, one thing is clear:  the road to the resurrection always makes its way through the cross.

So, where do we look to find the risen Lord?  …  Yes, his presence surely abounds in this sacred space – in the Word of God proclaimed in the scriptures – in the sacrament of the Eucharist, his very body and blood – and in this great assembly of believers.  …  But where do we look when we are beckoned to go forth at the conclusion of this Mass?  …  Where do we look?  …  Look to the same places in our world where Jesus was found when he walked among us two thousand years ago. 

In his recently published work, Touch the Wounds, the Czech theologian and priest Tomas Halik writes, “there is no other path or other gate to find God than that which is opened by a wounded hand and pierced heart.”  The author goes on share words as if spoken by the risen Jesus himself, “It is where you touch human suffering, and maybe only there, that you will realize that I am alive, that ‘it is me.’  You will meet me wherever people suffer.  Do not shy away from me in any of those meetings.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

A few weeks ago following the destruction of tornadoes that rolled through parts of Mississippi, a woman from the little town of Rolling Fork that was virtually wiped off the map, was interviewed by a news reporter.  Her name was Melinda.  She had been buried for hours under the debris from her home that was completely destroyed.  “We have nothing left – no water, no car, no electricity, no house, no nothing.  But by God’s grace and mercy, I was pulled out of a tomb.  He saved me for a reason.  So I’ll trust in him.”

Where do we look to find the risen Jesus?  We look to those who suffer – to see the risen Christ and to make his presence known.

Pope Francis reflected upon this miracle of Easter, “The Lord is risen! Let us run to find him, the Living One! Nor should we be afraid to seek him also in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the stories of those who hope and dream and in the pain of those who we suffer: God is there!” 

Brothers and sisters, the risen Jesus is present – here – now!   Receive the life and hope that he promises.  Yet, like the women who first encountered the empty tomb on the day of resurrection, ours is not linger in this sacred space, reluctant to confront the suffering of our world.   Ours is to go forth boldly from this cathedral with hope, to both encounter and proclaim the risen Lord – in our families and neighborhoods – in the joyful hearts of those who make their way into our lives – and especially in the suffering souls who look to us for signs of Jesus’ comfort and peace.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad!