The Lord is risen! Indeed, He is risen! Jesus’ resurrection is the most important celebration of the Church, so much so that we don’t just celebrate it on Easter. Every Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’ rising from the dead. Catholic liturgical celebrations, like Mass, are so very special because they make present what is being commemorated. So, for us, Sundays (or Saturday vigils) are wonderful opportunities to meet the risen Lord and celebrate and give thanks for His resurrection.
But what is so incredible about God’s victory over death isn’t so much that it happened. After all, Jesus, being divine, is all powerful. Whatever He wants to happen, happens. What is truly amazing is why Christ decides to deal with our sin and death, and how He comes out on top.
First, the why. God is perfect. He doesn't “need” to do anything and only operates from sheer freedom. God has chosen to love us into existence. This love is a complete gift and is not earned - how could it be if God loved us before we existed. And so we remember John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." God loves us! That's great news.
Second, the how. If God wanted to, a mere thought would have put an end to sin, death, and every type of suffering. Jesus, being divine, is all powerful. In the world, things get done with an inherent violence. In order to make a change to something, one must possess a power over it. So there is a tendency for the powerful to take advantage of the weak. And who is more powerful than God. But in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, He doesn’t use His power. He doesn’t fight fire with fire, or overcome Caesar’s legion with a host of angels. No, Christ makes the change from the inside, out. Jesus takes upon Himself all the sin and suffering the world has to offer in His passion and death. By His divine love, Our Lord changes it completely, turning the scandal of the Cross into the cause of our hope and joy. Jesus Christ’s victory is complete, irrevocable, and not accomplished by force, but by love.
Today, Jesus invites us to let Him share His victory of Easter with us. To be a Catholic Christian is to accept His Divine Life in our lives. We believe that Jesus can be present in our lives because He is truly human. In the events of this past Holy Week we experienced the very mortality of Christ in His passion and death. But Jesus is also truly divine. Through Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, Christ does something only God can do – conquer death itself. We share our suffering and death with the Lord, and in exchange, He shares with us His own Divine life.
This Divine life is not meant to be experienced only in heaven. The life Jesus shares with us makes it possible so that in our suffering, and in our dying to ourselves for love of God and our brothers and sisters, we can be victorious, fully realized and truly joy-filled people. Jesus shares the power of Easter with us through the Church’s celebration of Holy Week culminating today. But this most holy time also acts as a reminder that Christ wants to share with us His victory regularly: in Sunday Mass, in daily prayer, in Confession, and in our service to our brothers and sisters. So, rejoice in Jesus’ victory and ours! The Lord is risen! Indeed, He is risen!