“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
Sing: “If you are happy and you know, clap your hands (x3). If you are happy and you know, say: ‘Amen’ (x3). If you are happy and you know, and you really want to show, if you are happy and you know, shout ‘Jesus!’ Let us now consider our lessons for today:
1. The Joy of Easter is Our Victory over Death
Yes, today is a day of happiness. It is a day of dancing and gladness not because we have ended our season of fasting but because today, life overcame the power of death. Because Jesus rose from the dead, death has lost its sting, death has lost its victory, and death no more has the final say. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Because of what happened on this day two thousand, twenty-three years ago, we now know that there is life beyond the grave and Christ has opened the way for us.
And just as Christ rose from the dead, we too shall rise from the dead not to return to this world of pain of suffering but to enjoy eternal bliss in the mansions Christ, (the firstborn from the dead), has gone ahead to prepare for us. Jesus promised: “In my Father’s house are many rooms… And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
By rising from the dead, Christ has not only granted us victory over death, but He has also granted us victory over the devil. When the devil thought he had succeeded in making people laugh and mock Jesus, he did not know that that which was an object of laughter would in the end become an object of glory. When the devil sees the cross, he trembles because it is a reminder to him of how he has been defeated hands down. This is why demons flee at the sight of the cross. Carry a cross always with you, let it remind you of the great joy that we celebrate today.
2. By Rising From the Dead, Christ has given us Hope
By rising from the dead, Christ has shown us that even though evil may thrive in our world, good will ultimately triumph; that regardless of whatever may come our way in our journey on earth, there is a great light at the end of the tunnel. By rising from the dead, Jesus has made it clear that no matter how many Good Fridays come our way, Easter Sunday is sure to come.
I often hear people say that by dying for us, Jesus has taken away all our sorrows. Is this truly the case? Let’s be honest, Jesus did not die to end our sufferings or to make us escape the rigour of carrying our crosses. When Judas complained about the oil Mary used in anointing Jesus’ feet, Jesus made a remark: “You will always have the poor among you.” (Cf. John 12:8). If it is true that Jesus died to take away our sorrows, how come Jesus remarked that “in the world, you will have tribulation”? (John 16:23)
Jesus did not die to end world poverty or to take away our sorrows and pain. No. Jesus died to show us that death is not the end. Jesus died to show us that He has power over death so that we can completely trust Him. Jesus died to take away our fear of death so that even when someone threatens us with death, we can just laugh and say: “is that all you can do? I serve a God who can raise me again to life even if I die.” Jesus died and rose again to teach us that none of our suffering for His sake is ever in vain. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Christ has Risen. What Next? Become a Witness
This question takes us to our first reading today. Peter had just received a vision from God wherein he was warned not to refer to anything made by God as “unclean”. Meanwhile, at Caesarea, an angel of God had appeared to a Roman Centurion named Cornelius, asking him to send for Peter immediately. It was at the home of the Centurion that it became clear to Peter the meaning of the vision he had and at this moment, God opened his eyes to a deeper understanding of the mystery of the resurrection.
In his address, Peter noted: “We are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem… And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be the judge of the living and the dead… that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:39-43). Take note of that word: “everyone”.
Christ rose from the dead to make us witnesses so that everyone, (regardless of nationality, race, colour or religion) will have redemption and life. Let me break it down. We are celebrating Easter because we believe that Christ actually rose from the dead. Since we believe, we have a duty, now, to proclaim the resurrection of Christ to the millions of people out there who do not believe.
Dear friends, it is not enough for you to start sending out “Happy Easter” greetings to all our friends on social media. You must take a step further to preach to them what Easter means to you. Convince someone that the resurrection of Christ is not just a myth but something that has an effect on our lives to this day.
4. Christ has Risen. What Next? Turn Away from Sin
How are we then to let the whole world know that Christ truly rose from the dead? They say the best preaching is that which does not require words. This is where today’s second reading comes in. St. Paul says: “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-4).
If we all chose to return to our old ways after today, if nothing changes about our lives, if we do not start seeking things above rather than engage in the blind pursuit of money, power and pleasure, then all our Lenten observances would have been in vain. If we do not rise from a life of sin, then it would seem that Christ has not risen from the dead and our proclamation would be empty words.
How do we make our proclamation of Christ’s resurrection concrete? What should people notice in us moving forward?
a. That we are no longer like the crowd who chose Barabbas over Jesus, who chose darkness over light, who chose to turn a blind eye to the notoriety of Barabbas.
b. That we are no longer trying to make money through dubious means like Judas Iscariot who sold his master for 30 silver coins;
c. That we are not ashamed of defending our faith even before a small child, unlike Peter who was so scared for his life;
d. That we are no longer telling lies like the Chief Priests who knew very well that Jesus was innocent but wanted him dead out of jealousy;
e. That we are no longer power-conscious like Pilate who for fear of losing favour with Caesar asked that Jesus be crucified;
f. That we no longer base our faith on signs and wonders like the people who wanted Jesus to jump down from the cross so that they would believe;
g. That we are no longer going about with grudges in our hearts but instead forgive like Jesus did on the Cross when he said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, help me to fix my mind on the things that are above and no longer or those below. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Easter Sunday. Bible Study: Acts 10:34,37-43, Ps. 118:1-2,16-17,22-23, Colossians 3:1-4, John 20:1-9).
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu