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Marist Bulletin - Number 290

 

Easter Day Message - Br. Seán D. Sammon, Superior General
08/04/2007

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This remarkable feast of Easter is central to our faith. We celebrate it each year, making plain our belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. In word, at least, we attest to the fact that as far as we are concerned the resurrection took place.

But what about our behavior on Easter Sunday, and every other day of the year? Does it match our Pascal rhetoric or fall short of the mark? For example, does the way in which we treat others, the matters which we allow to preoccupy us daily, as well as the hopes we hold close and dreams we cherish cause others to think of us as a people for whom Jesus and his rising has made all the difference?

On the first Easter and for many weeks to follow, there was little doubt in anyone’s mind about where the disciples of the Lord stood. Mary of Magdala wept upon seeing the one she called “teacher,” while John was so excited that he ran ahead of Peter to the tomb. During the days that followed, Thomas expressed grave doubts about the whole affair, and when the apostles and others finally received the Spirit on Pentecost they were described as resembling those drunk on new wine. Now, has anyone ever had good reason to say the same about you and me?

Our world was shaken up by the events of Easter Sunday, shaken it to its very foundations. As the centuries have passed, however, many of us have grown to be more at home with the status quo than any shakeup, including those tremors of renewal that periodically move through our Church and way of life. The fire of God’s Spirit appears to frighten us, and though we pray for passion we could just as well do without.

Eventually, we are reduced to being respectable, to doing things right rather than doing the right things. Over time those fundamental and foundational changes that Easter wrought can come to appear more cosmetic than real.

Let’s be honest, though, there was little about Jesus Christ that was conventionally respectable. Here was a person who was not shy in telling the powers that be that he had come for the sick and not the well, the sinner and not the saved, for the imperfect and not the perfect. His disciples worked on the Sabbath when necessary, he ate with sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors, and unlike many of the men of his day he appeared to understand that women are as capable, talented, creative, and sinful as their male counterparts!

While many in his day failed to understand the message of Jesus, there were some who did: the poor, the unlettered, those living on the margins of society. They understood better than most that salvation was more an affair of the heart and spirit than of anything else. And so, they were not particularly surprised when Jesus, in word and deed, shook up our world by announcing that the game plan for a life well lived had changed.

Nineteen centuries later a man by the name of Marcellin Champagnat learned to appreciate the mystery and message of Jesus. And he did so because he approached the Lord with Mary’s heart and mind. Like her he understood that while Lent is a time for pledging a change of heart, Easter is the moment to stop talking and to start taking action. He told us as much in his last will and testament. There is an Easter message there about loving our brothers and others, about telling every child and young person we meet just how much Jesus Christ loves him or her, about simple living, sharing the goods of the earth, selflessness and sacrifice.

What a blessing to celebrate Easter each year. For the feast serves as a reminder about the importance of passion, the unconditional love of the Lord, and about putting and gospel principles ahead of respectability. Let’s start acting like the Easter people we were meant to be. Were we to do just that, there might even be some who would wonder if we were drunk on new wine! Happy Easter.

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