Dear People of Saint Anne,
The resurrection of Jesus is not just one event in human history among the many that has happened. It is not even one of those great events in human history that has changed the course of lives of people in profound ways. Rather, the resurrection of Christ is that event which changes all the events of human history. It is the event that redefines all of our history and gives a different meaning to everything.
As is brought home to us on Good Friday, human history is one that has been and continues to be marked by death, whether the death that is the end of human life or the death that is a quality of human life marked by hatred and strife, by the death dealing modes of human living generated by envy, pride and greed, or the effects of natural calamities and sickness. There is no place on earth that has been free from death. This has been for us a fundamental feature of our human history.
The idea that Christ has risen, that death is transformed by life and that hatred is overpowered by love, is something we struggle to believe, because everything about human history tells us not to believe it. Yet, once we come to realize its truth, we are totally overwhelmed by it and our lives are completely changed.
The resurrection of Christ tells us that the story of our human history, which has been a story of death, has now been rewritten completely. It has become a story of life. Death is no longer the inescapable conclusion and final end of the story of our human history. It has been replaced by the gift of transforming life.
This transformation is seen in the lives of those to whom the risen Christ does appear and of whom we hear in the Gospel passage for this day. We see it in the life of Mary Magdalene, one of the women who loved Christ to the end as he loved them to the end. Despite her love for Christ, when she sees the empty tomb, she can only think that Christ’s body has been taken away. Yet, because of her love for Christ she is given an encounter with the risen Christ in the garden, who calls her by her name and at that moment, she realizes fully the truth that he is indeed risen. We see it in the lives of the disciples who were chosen by Christ and who followed him in the course of his earthly ministry, their minds and hearts being conformed to Christ as they experienced what he did and what he taught. Despite all this, they struggle to grasp that Christ could rise from the dead. Their first moment of insight at the empty tomb will be confirmed into full belief when Christ appears to them and speaks to them, giving them the Holy Spirit who will encourage and strengthen them in their belief in the years to come.
For us, as Christ’s later disciples, the resurrection of Christ is also something that is revealed to us. We already know this truth as part of the faith that has been passed on to us from generation to generation. It is something we receive from the testimony of the Scriptures and in our Creed. And yet the full truth and significance of the resurrection of Christ for us and for our expectations and hopes only comes about when our minds and hearts are awakened to it through the active working of God’s Spirit. When we come fully to see that the story of our human lives is not one that concludes with death, but with life.
A blessed Easter to all of you. It is so inspiring to see so many of you back at Mass this Easter day or joining us through our livestreaming service. As you have seen from returning to our church campus, over the last year, there have been many wonderful renovations and improvements due to your generosity through the Legacy of Faith. I hope that you find them appealing. I hope and pray you and your families will have the opportunity to be vaccinated and will continue to join us for worship on a weekly basis.
In the Lord of New and Everlasting Life,
Father Bernie Pietrzak, Pastor