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  • Writer's pictureFather George

From Father George's Desk- Easter Sunday

Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia!  How audacious is God’s love!  So much has been written and spoken about the Easter story over the two millennia of Christendom.  What more can possibly be said?  Each of the four evangelists records for us the events “early in the morning on that first day of the week” and, while the details may differ slightly among them, the focus is on the empty tomb and the reactions of those who encounter it.  In John’s Gospel, other than the Beloved Disciple, everyone else goes away from the scene with bewilderment and astonishment while in Mark’s account the women leave confused and terrified.  Easter faith is not found there but only through encountering the Risen Christ.  For Mary Magdalene that encounter comes as she weeps at the tomb.  For Peter and the other disciples it comes as they sit behind locked doors in the upper room.  For the disciples on the way to Emmaus it happens in the breaking of bread.  Once they encounter the Risen Christ, everything—all of Jesus’ words and deeds, even the cross—makes sense. 

 

Easter faith first comes to us as we encounter the Risen Christ at our baptism.  But our faith is not yet perfect.  Each year we come again to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday to contemplate, to reflect upon the central mystery of our faith so that we may grow in union with Christ.  But, just as Mary, Peter, and the others do not remain at the tomb, neither can we.  The great 50 days of the Easter Season lies before us.  As our world and our churches resonate with Easter alleluias, the Risen Christ beckons us to fuller and livelier faith.  Easter is a season of celebration—a time for the Risen Christ to illumine our minds and enflame our hearts.

 

Easter, more than any other feast of the Christian year, speaks to the believer in the depths of the heart.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  In the perfect sacrifice of the cross he redeemed our frail humanity and our sinful nature and in his resurrection he gives us the hope of salvation.  All of this is accomplished not because we are deserving or worthy of anything, but solely through the incomprehensive, gratuitous love of God.  Robert Farrar Capon in his book, The Supper of the Lamb, writes: “Playing it safe is not divine.  I tell you simply what I believe.  Love is the wildest, choicest door into the Passion.  God saved the world not by sitting up in heaven and issuing antiseptic directives but by becoming human, and  vulnerable, in Jesus.  He died, not because he despised the earth but because he loved it as a man loves it—out of all proportion and sense.  And when he rose again, he stood up like a man indeed: with glorious scars—and with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of human nature.”  How audacious, indeed, is God’s love!   May the glory of this Easter Day fill your hearts with joy today and always!

 

Welcome to all of our guests today, especially those who have “returned home” to celebrate Easter with family and friends.  Welcome back to our parishioners we don’t see too often; you are part of our parish family and your presence makes us more complete.  We would love to see you more often!

 

The days of this week constitute the Easter Octave or, as many Eastern Rite Catholics and Orthodox Christians know it, Bright Week.  Having completed the solemn journey of Lent, the Church is filled with joy as we celebrate our Lord’s      triumph over the grave.  So full is our joy that it cannot be contained in just one day; therefore, we celebrate this entire week as though it were one great day of rejoicing.  While they are not obligatory, consider making an extra effort to attend daily Mass this week to continue our glorious Easter celebration.

 

Our 2024 Diocesan Lenten Appeal keeps rolling along… As of the March 18 report from the diocese, Holy Family has now passed its diocesan target!  That means that everything we collect for the remainder of this year’s appeal will be returned to the parish, assessment-free so that we can get to work on our parish project: updating of the church’s security and fire alarm systems.  We are 75% of the way to our parish goal and so far we have only heard from 15% of the parish; big thanks to those who have made a pledge or gift to get us this far! St. John is just about halfway to our parish goal and so far, 34% of our households have made a pledge or gift; thanks to everyone who is helping to move us forward.  Remember that our    parish project is to do some needed repair work to our main entry doors to the church and to add an automatic opener to  improve access. The weekly graphic elsewhere in the bulletin will keep you updated on our progress at both parishes.  Please prayerfully consider your pledge or gift to this year’s DLA in the coming days. You may return your pledge or gift by mail, in person during office hours, drop it in the collection basket, or online.

 

And finally—an Easter Sunday tradition in this column over the years and through my various assignments—from Father George’s vast warehouse of useless knowledge, a little Easter date trivia: I have heard quite a few people commenting this year that Easter seems to be very early.  While it is more common for Easter Sunday to fall in the month April, this is the fourth time in 33 years it has happened on March 31 (1991, 2002, and 2013 being the other three occurrences). Actually, since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1583, Easter Sunday has fallen on March 31 about four or five times each century; in the 21st century it has happened three times already and it will happen twice more but only the youngest among us will be around to see the other two occurrences in 2086 and 2097.  A very early Easter in one year typically means a very late date for Easter the following year and such will be the case in 2025 when Easter Sunday falls on April 20.

 

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