Light pierces the darknessBy: Bishop Edward M. Rice Cape Girardeau MO
Homily: Easter 2017
St. Mary Cathedral, Cape Girardeau, April 16, 2017
I always take comfort in the fact that the 50 days of Easter overwhelm the 40 days of Lent. And, if your Lent was not very successful or maybe your Lent was nothing at all, the good news is that Easter still comes! Thank goodness (and God) Christmas and Easter are not dependent on how well we enter into the spirit of Advent or Lent. No, it’s not about us in that sense, Christ still comes to embrace his flesh (Incarnation/Christmas) and Christ still comes to redeem us through his flesh (Passion, Death, and Resurrection). And so: a blessed Easter to all of you.
On Holy Thursday, I tried to impress upon the people that after his three years of public ministry, it all led to the Upper Room. All the miracles, all the teaching on the love of God, calling God, “Abba.” His doctrine on the Eucharist—“who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.” “Do this in memory of me,” the gift of the Priesthood and the Eucharist, and the example of humble service in the washing of feet—every bit of it leads to the Upper Room.
On Good Friday, I tried to impress upon the people that after his three years of public ministry, it all led to the Foot of the Cross. Three times he taught his disciples the doctrine of the Cross—that he would go to Jerusalem to suffer and to be put to death. From the Cross we discovered the fullness of mercy, forgiveness, and love. Yes, it all leads to the Foot of the Cross.
And, on this day—Easter Sunday—after his three years of public ministry, it all leads to the Empty Tomb. The beginning of his ministry at his Baptism, that moment was marked with a voice from God, “This is my beloved Son.” At the Transfiguration in all his glory, the voice of God again affirmed his divine Sonship, and throughout his ministry he taught, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” To Martha and Mary, he told them, “Who believes in me will never die.” And he questioned Martha, “Do you believe?”
And so in the tomb—in darkness, death, and silence—the light pierces the darkness, and by faith, life is restored; and by faith, silence is replaced with “Alleluia.” In the Resurrection, hope is restored, life is meaningful, and we have purpose—there is a reason for us to be here. You see, the life and ministry of Jesus brought us to the Upper Room, it all led to the Cross, and it all led to the Empty Tomb. These three moments define who we are: We are people of the Upper Room, who keep alive his words, “Do this.” We do this when we gather at the altar or when we gather to serve. We are people of the Cross, who discover how to love, to forgive, and become instruments of mercy. We are people of the Empty Tomb, who see beyond the darkness and proclaim the light of Christ, who see beyond emptiness and see meaning, we look beyond death and see life. So, on this Easter morning, let us cry out: “Alleluia!”