Bishop Loverde's Easter Sunday Homily

This homily was given Easter Sunday at St. Thomas More Cathedral, Arlington, on April 23, 2000. The story is told of a child who began to read the Gospels. Like billions before her. She quickly became charmed by Jesus. Suddenly, she ran out of her room crying hysterically. She ran into the arms of her alarmed mother. She cried: "They killed him. They killed him." Her mother comforted her and then whispered to her, "now go back and finish the story." Unlike that child, we know the rest of the story. Our hearts rejoice as we hear how the story finished — not with defeat and death, but with victory and new life. "Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here." Similar good news is proclaimed in our first reading: "… They put [Jesus] to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised up on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead." No wonder the Church exults in the opening words of the Easter Proclamation which we heard last night during the Easter Vigil: "Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ our King, is risen!" The Easter Good News is, in fact, the core or center of the Gospel: Jesus Christ has died and now lives! His "love to the end" in the end has triumphed. In my homilies during the first two days of the Easter Triduum — on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, — I repeatedly used that phrase: "love to the end." I pointed out that each of the celebrations during the Easter Triduum, from Holy Thursday through Easter Day, has a particular emphasis, but that all of them together form one prolonged celebration of the central mystery of our faith: the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. As you and I have been reliving Christ’s Dying and Rising in these days of the Easter Triduum, we see so clearly revealed before us the love Christ has for each of us — for each member of the human family, a love forever faithful and enduring, truly "love to the end;" not only to the end of Christ’s earthly life, but love continuing on, because today we proclaim that Christ is the Risen Lord, and, therefore, His love remains to the end of time into eternity. Christ’s "love to the end" in the end has triumphed. Because He has triumphed over sin and death, He gives us newness of life. This celebration of Easter pulsates with this gift: a radical newness! Nothing is the same again! Sin will never have the final victory nor will human death! As we pray over and over throughout the Easter season and indeed throughout the year: "Dying, You destroyed our death, rising You restored our life, Lord Jesus, come in glory!" This "newness of life," the result of Christ’s "love to the end," is made visible for us through symbols. We see before us in the sanctuary the newly blessed Paschal Candle, whose flame symbolizes Christ the Light. Yes, Christ is our Light, going before us to lead us in our pilgrimage through life, dispelling the darkness of sin and death, warming us in our loneliness and difficulties, guiding us in our uncertainty and fears. This "newness of life," the result of Christ’s "love to the end," is likewise made visible through the symbol of water. Soon, you will be sprinkled with water, which I blessed last night during the Easter Vigil. This water symbolizes Christ our Life, who strengthens us to live daily according to His Gospel and the teachings of the Church His Body of which we are members. This "newness of life," the result of Christ’s "love to the end," is also made visible in the reality of the Eucharist, both sacrament and sacrifice, the Eucharist we celebrate with such faith and joy today, whereby in our midst the dying and rising of Christ is made present, whereby Christ’s Real Presence continues among us in the Blessed Sacrament. In the Eucharist, Christ’s "love to the end" is revealed in a unique way and He remains to be our nourishment on the journey that ends at our Father’s House. We are observing the Holy Year of the Great Jubilee, recalling in a special way the 2000th anniversary of Christ’s Birth in Bethlehem. He was born in order to become, by His dying and rising, the One Saviour of the world, our Saviour! Today, as we renew our commitment to live in close union with the Risen Lord Jesus, let us ask the Lord to deepen His life within us and to make us His witnesses of Easter joy and hope. Let us promise our Risen Saviour and Lord that we will follow Him, our Light and our Life, everyday and invite others to come to Him by the witness of our lives — our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends — everyone we meet! With Christ the Risen One, let us make all things new — with the joy and hope He gives! With Christ the Risen One, Let us be Easter People! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2000