“HE IS RISEN!”
“HE IS RISEN INDEED!”
I will always remember the Easter Vigil in 2015. This is when I was confirmed into the Catholic Church. That night the normally mild-mannered priest presiding over the mass stepped up to the pulpit to give his homily, and he loudly proclaimed, “HE IS RISEN!” The people in the pews responded, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”. The priest then proclaimed even louder, “HE IS RISEN!” and the people again responded, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”. And once more the priest proclaimed, “HE IS RISEN!” and the people once more responded excitedly, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Now that’s a way to start a homily! If people were starting to doze off, they certainly weren’t any longer after the priest was yelling from the pulpit that “He is risen”! What a change from a few short days prior when the Passion narrative was read on Palm Sunday and the people in the pews are reminded that it is our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross when we say our part of the reading, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”. It is certainly a much better feeling to proclaim that “He is Risen” than “Crucify Him”!
What that priest understood so well was that Easter is the pinnacle of the church year. While there are many great feast days and other celebrations throughout the church year, none of them top Easter. Easter is so important that we take the 40 days of Lent just to prepare for it! 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57 sums up what we are celebrating: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The utter sorrow of Good Friday when Jesus was crucified has changed into the most joyous occasion in the history of the world. Jesus conquered death, rose from the dead, and we have the promise of eternal life because of His victory!
I remember thinking at the Easter Vigil how awesome it would be to be able to visit the tomb that Jesus was buried in. There is a church called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem over the place where Jesus was buried that can be visited. This has to be the most holy place in the whole world, right? Well at Easter Vigil shortly before I would be confirmed and receive my first communion, it hit me. What we have available at Mass is greater than any holy site we could ever visit. At Mass, Jesus is really present for us to receive in the Eucharist. The Mass isn’t just a reminder of Jesus’ life, but it is actually a participation in His life. We literally receive His life into our lives by receiving the Eucharist. I know it would be an incredible experience to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or any of the other pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land, but I realized we are closer than we could ever be anywhere else in the world to Jesus when we receive the Eucharist at Mass. Whether it’s right here at St. Joseph’s parish, or wherever you attend, Mass is the holiest place in the world because Jesus is truly present to us in the Eucharist. What a great privilege it is to be Catholic and to have access to the incredible gift of the Holy Eucharist!
I hope you all have a great Holy Week and a great Easter!
Word up. I am Stacy, the youth minister of this amazing group of teens. I have 4 kids of my own, 2 heaven babies and like 60 teens I consider very large children of my own.