Alleluia! Alleluia! He has Truly Risen: Easter Sunday
Sermon by Emmanuel Suntheni OSB
SERMON AND LISTENING TO THE WORD
Theme: “Alleluia! Alleluia! He has truly risen: We are anew People-Restoring Creation – Just do good as an Easter Person”
Point of reflection: Have I risen with the Lord? Am I a new person after dying with my sins and risen again with the Lord as restoring creation? Let us rejoice, the Lord has truly risen! Alleluia!
First Reading: Acts 10:34, 37–43
Psalm: Psalm 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 5:6–8
Gospel: Mark 16:1–7
The Ultimate Reality of Easter sermon: Christian Faith is a post-Easter faith. Since that first Easter, the Risen Jesus continues to walk with every believer towards the fullness of the new creation. Through the work of Peter and other apostles, this new creation was extended to include those who were not a part of the Israelite community. Paul reminds his Corinthians that they are now a part of this new creation and, as a result, live by different standards to the rest of society. Mark sees the resurrection of Jesus as a new dawn for creation and humanity. Easter is the beginning of believers’ journey to Galilee to meet the Risen Lord, which symbolically means journey towards the heavenly home. All this is possible only because Jesus is truly risen! On such a day, what other words can be uttered but the words of the Psalmist, “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” He has truly risen again! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Sermon (Reflection): Easter Sunday is the maximum and total-climax of our faith. Easter Sunday is the mother of all Sundays. Easter Sunday deserves to be called the “Sunday of Sundays”. Focused fully on the resurrection of Jesus, Easter Sunday’s liturgy celebrates the most important event in human history and the beginning of the new creation.
The heart of today’s Easter scriptural readings is theGospel passage from Mark reporting the scene at the empty tomb (Cf. Mark 16:1-7). The evangelist Mark briefly describes what took place on that “first day of the week”, which was, in reality, the day of new creation. That is why Easter people need to be new creation. We go to Church on Sundays because the resurrection event took place on the first day of the week which is the day of new creation. Even though “the sun had risen”, the women approaching the tomb of Jesus were still in the night. This is the movement of Christians during Easter: to move from darkness to light, the sun has risen. The intention of women was to anoint the dead body of Jesus but their only preoccupation was the very large stone which blocked the tomb. Evangelist Mark highlights the size of the stone to emphasize that human power alone could not move it. No human being can block the blessings of God and the will of God.
Though the centre of the Gospel is the risen Christ, it is worthy while to recognise the vital role women played. It is women who discovered that Jesus Christ has risen. It is important to recognise the significant roles women have played in the history of salvation. Without women, the history of salvation could have a gap. Think of the birth of Jesus! Women have played a very significant role in the salvific plan of God. This can pose a reflective question to the Church, as the Church have we given adequate roles to women in the Church today? God used women to accomplish salvific plan.
As the women approached the tomb, they found that somebody else had already accomplished what they could not – the stone had been moved. Then they encountered a messenger announcing to them that the dead man they sought, Jesus, no longer rests among the dead, he has been raised! Moreover, the risen Jesus wants the disciples to return to Galilee to meet him there. This surprising command is entirely symbolic – it implies that the disciples are now to begin their life of discipleship anew, this time following not Jesus of Nazareth who died, but the risen Lord who will walk with them into the future. Their life of discipleship is now centred on the risen Lord who conquered the greatest manifestation of evil – death itself. Their mission of proclamation is now to begin guided by the full knowledge of what God has done through Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of the new discipleship, indeed the beginning of the new creation and of the Christian faith. It is an Easter calling to all of us Christians, to begin anew in our Christian journey. We need to leave our old self and cloth in new self with Easter joy. Death has no power over humanity. Christ has redeemed us, He has truly risen, Alleluia!
The first Easter Scriptural reading (Acts 10:34, 37–43) offers us a need to proclaim the Good News that Christ has truly Risen. It is a call for every Christian to proclaim the risen Christ with words and deeds. We can reflect from Peter’s speech in the first reading which was delivered in the house of Cornelius, a Roman officer from the town of Caesarea. As a devoted man ( Acts 10:2), his vision commanded to invite Peter, a man he did not know, into his house ( Acts 10:1-8). In the meantime, Peter also had a puzzling vision which he did not understand at the time ( Acts 10:9-17). When Peter and Cornelius eventually met, the meaning of their respective visions became clear and their meeting changed the course of Christian history. Both understood that God intends the Gospel to spread beyond the Jewish community, and be proclaimed to the Gentiles, with the offer of full membership in the community of God’s people. It was an offer of salvation for all humanity. This is an Easter call to all Christians, not just to fill in our hearts that Christ has risen but to go out and proclaim the Gospel.
In his short speech to the household of Cornelius, Peter first outlined what Jesus did during his public ministry in Galilee. He summarized Jesus’ mission in two phrases stating that Jesus went around “doing good” and “healing all who were oppressed by the devil”. The first phrase directly links Jesus’ work with the creation of the world. Everything God created is described by the creator himself as “good” (Gen 1:10.12). My dear brother and sister, just do good. He has risen, just do good.
We can note that Peter’s speech was full of proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection. He testified, and this proclamation of the foundations of the Christian faith is known as kerygma. In his resurrection Jesus conquered death. The defeat of death was yet another act of restoration of the world because death was not originally a part of it. Death entered the world through human sin. Conquering death, Jesus overcame the effects of sin. Peter emphasized this in his speech, stating that “everyone who believes in him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins”. Thanks to the resurrection, the believer receives forgiveness of sin and thus the restoration of new creation.
In the second scriptural reading (1 Corinthians 5:6–8), we encounter the image of “old yeast”. St Paul is relating it with Exodus event. Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul attempted to deal with numerous problems in the life of this young community. Actually, one of the Christians was living in an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife, with the quiet approval of other community members ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Addressing the issue, Paul used the language drawn from the observance of the Jewish Passover feast. To commemorate the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were required to remove all yeast from their households and eat only unleavened bread for seven days before the feast ( Exodus 13:7). In Paul’s view, his Christians were cleansed from the polluting yeast and became like the unleavened bread – purified and united with their Lord. Metaphorically, we can conclude that their life became an ongoing Passover celebration of Jesus’ sacrificial death as the paschal lamb.
However, the Corinthians’ lives could truly be this on-going Passover only if they would clean out all the “old yeast”, that is immorality, malice, and evil from their midst. St Paul was concerned that the Corinthian lived their life as a “new batch” – a new creation cleansed from the polluting effects of sin, and living in harmony with God in “true righteousness and holiness”. Such life was made possible only because Jesus is the paschal lamb, slaughtered but made alive by God, with the intent of restoring his creation through the defeat of sin and death. Today, we are redeemed by Christ. He is Risen!
Listening to the Word of God “Let us rejoice: He has truly risen again! Alleluia! Alleluia! Let us just do good as Jesus Christ has done good”
The deeper sense we need to reflect during Easter is what the resurrection of Jesus means for humanity and the whole of creation. It is in the person of Jesus, that we contemplate God’s way of restoring a fractured creation. My dear brothers and sisters, in our societies, we are knocked down by sin and evil: we are fractured by our evil ways, our jealousy, our corruption in the society, our way of living is fractured, and we need the true doctor to fix our life. Here comes Jesus Christ the Healer: He has truly risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!
In recounting the public ministry of Jesus to Cornelius, Peter laid particular emphasis on the mission of Jesus to restore creation. According to Peter, the mission of Jesus was characterised by “doing good” and “healing all who were oppressed by the devil”. This salvific act of Christ is replicated by persons who accept the gift of new life. In other words, after I have experienced the goodness of Christ and I have been healed by him, I express goodness and bring healing to others. By so doing the principle of restoration and renewal is made operative in our world. Can I just ‘do good’ to other from today onwards? A personal reflective question, Jesus Christ had done good works and he continues doing good works, as a follower of Christ, am I doing good works or bad works? Our calling today is just to do well… nothing else is required of us rather than just “do good to others”, in so doing we will be better Easter people.
As more hearts and lives are renewed, the whole of creation is renewed and restored. A new life, however, does not happen by chance; neither is it offered on a silver platter. A new life starts with dying to the old self.
As Easter people, we need to shed off our old ways. There is an African proverb which says, “A snake makes itself beautiful by shedding off its skin.” It can be a painful process when one has to shed off an old way of life. It is often characterised by letting go of certain behaviours that bring fleeting pleasures and immediate gratification and accepting a life of faith characterised by a lot of challenges. However, such a move is necessary if we aspire to live a new life. We are anew people, we are Easter people filled with love and joy, let us go and proclaim the Good News, He has truly risen Alleluia! Alleluia!, and death had been defeated.
Action: From now onwards, I (we) will commit myself (ourselves) just to do good as an Easter person (people). Nothing else is more valuable here on earth rather than just doing good. Jesus Christ has done good. Why not me (us)? I will just do good in my entire life.
Prayer: Eternal ever living Father, the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ fills us with, love, joy and the hope of new life. Let the risen Christ dwell in our hearts that we be good people and just to do good as Your Son has done to the rest of humanity. May the graces You shower on us daily make us true disciples of Christ and be better Easter people,we ask this through the Risen Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, Amen.
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