April 20, 2014 – The Resurrection of the Lord/The Mass of Easter Sunday
Last Easter, Pope Francis, who had only been Pope for some 12 days, smiled and looked at his people, his newly designated flock, and at the Easter Vigil he said, “Let the risen Jesus enter your life; welcome Him as a friend, with trust. Jesus is life! If up until now you have kept Him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk; you won’t be disappointed. If following Him seems difficult, don’t be afraid. Trust Him! Be confident that He is close to you; He is with you; He will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as He would have you do.”
His Holiness admittedly did not use the word “stewardship,” but what he said and what he was talking about exuded stewardship. On this radiant Easter Sunday, filled with life, filled with beauty, and filled with hope, we need to embrace everything that Pope Francis was talking about. Most of all we need to recognize the gift of eternal life presented us by Christ’s Resurrection, and we need to do all we do with trust in Christ and in His promises to us.
Holy Scripture always provides us with insights and inspiration, but the readings on Easter Sunday offer particular weight to the reasons for our joy and celebration on this day. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles quotes St. Peter as he testified to the truth and reality of what he had witnessed. Faith is, of course, built upon testimony, and although we may not have personally been present to view all that happened with Jesus Christ and His Resurrection, Peter was. Our faith recognizes Peter as a witness to all. Peter reminds us why we are jubilant on Easter: “Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins through His name.”
St. Paul is another extraordinary witness to Christ’s gift of salvation. Paul’s message to the Colossians and to us is especially fitting for Easter. Jesus was raised from the dead and we were raised with Him. Jesus arose and left the tomb. Sometimes we may find ourselves in the tombs of our own making — ways that we may isolate ourselves and not open ourselves to either God or those around us. It is time for us, too, to leave the tomb. After His Resurrection, Jesus spent His time with His disciples, His followers. It is time for us to be with others and to serve others. That is what stewardship is all about: reaching out to others in service. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and have been since our Baptism. Now is the time to fulfill that Baptismal promise.
Our Gospel from John tells the story of those who discovered that Jesus had risen, even though they may not have immediately drawn that conclusion. Note that St. John, who wrote this report, refers to himself indirectly in an act of humility. There is no question that John is the second Apostle, the witness, who “saw and believed.” In the original Greek text, where it is translated as “bent down and saw” describing John as the first of the apostles to get to the tomb, the Greek word used for “saw” is “blepo.” That means more than just to see; it means “to clearly see.” John’s “seeing” is followed by St. Peter’s. Peter entered the tomb and he “saw.” However, the Greek word translated as “saw” is “theoreo.” That literally means not just “to see,” but also to “contemplate, observe, and scrutinize.” Finally, John, too enters the tomb and “sees and believes.” In this instance the Greek word for see was “eido,” which means“to understand.” We are called to clearly see and to totally comprehend what Jesus has done for us. Happy Easter!